Support for legalizing recreational cannabis has reached an all-time high. A 68% supermajority of Americans now say they’re fine with adults using the product, according to a new Gallup poll conducted in October 2020. That’s up from about 64% to 66% seen between 2017 and 2019.

Continue Reading Below

Meanwhile, a jaw-dropping 91% of Americans support medical marijuana being made available to those who need it. That trend of increasing support of recreational marijuana certainly showed in the November 2020 election:  five states passed marijuana legislation, four of which involved approving recreational use and regulation.

South Dakota made history by legalizing both medical and adult-use marijuana in the same year. Gallup has been taking polls of public support for cannabis legalization since 1969. The company has found that support has been inching ever-higher for decades, only dipping for a while in the 1980s and skyrocketing after Barack Obama’s presidency.

Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize marijuana, back in 2012. At the time, national public support of legalization was around 18% lower.

Demographic Breakdown

The likelihood that a certain person will support legalization of adult-use cannabis varies depending on certain demographics. Men, younger adults, college graduates, and people living in households with a combined income of greater than $100,000 are all more likely to be on board with legalization.

As for gender, Gallup found 69% of men wanted legal weed, compared to 66% of women. The 18-29 age group has a whopping 79% portion of its grouping supporting the product. But by the time we reach the 65% age group, that support dips to 55%. It’s worth noting, however, that even the 55% marker is astronomically high compared to how people felt in the 1970s. College graduates said they supported legalization at a rate of 76% while those without college degrees hover around 64%.

Income and Political Breakdown

Household income shows variance but still remains quite high. 67% of people in households earning less than $40,000 said they support marijuana; between $40,000 and $100,000 as a household income, 68% of those polled said they support legalization; and for households earning over $100,000, the support level is 74%.

Continue Reading Below

The only groups that remain as the holdouts who tend to be against recreational use are conservative Republicans and religious groups. Republican support for legal bud has grown at an incredibly fast rate. The group raised its support by an even 30% between 2005 and 2019. Support among that group dipped 3% between those polled in 2018/2019 and 2020.

The growth of Democratic support has been strong too, taking a 32% jump between 2005 and 2020. 48% of people who identify as Republican, when polled by Gallup, said they believe adult-use marijuana should be legal. Interestingly, people who also identify as Conservatives polled slightly higher, with 49% supporting recreational cannabis.

That’s compared to 83% of people who vote Democrat, and 87% of folks who identify as Liberal. 72% of Independents said they support legalization, as did 74% of those who view their ideology as Moderate.

Religious and Ethnic Breakdown

The amount people attend church also seems to impact their view. Those who said they attend church weekly had the lowest poll numbers of any group, with only 48% of people in that group saying they would want legal weed.

People who said they went monthly were 11% more likely to say they would vote for marijuana legalization. 79% of inconsistent church-goers, or people who said they visited church “less often” supported legalization.  

Race and ethnicity seem to play a major role in how people view cannabis as well. In a data set of three combined polls conducted between 2018 and 2019, an average of 74% of Black respondents said they supported legalization. 66% of non-Hispanic white people favored it, and 57% of Hispanic people polled were in favor of legalization. Of course, where you live is another major determining factor in how you’re likely to feel about recreational cannabis.

New York

For instance, in the state of New York, 65% of residents believe recreational cannabis should be legalized. That mean comes from 71% support in New York City, averaged out with 60% in the surrounding areas like Long Island and Westchester.

In October, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said legalizing the product could be a way to help the state’s economy after the coronavirus pandemic. The Governor plans to introduce a legalization bill in 2021, which could mend New York’s $6 billion gap in its budget.


Florida’s Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act made the Sunshine State the 22nd in the nation to make marijuana available with a prescription. That was in 2014, two years after recreational cannabis started becoming legal in certain states.

Today, a series of polls conducted by the St. Leo University Polling Institute found about 60% of Floridians support legalizing recreational marijuana. That’s right at the 60% supermajority mark the amendment would need to pass into law. Now, the Florida Marijuana Legalization Initiative is already in the works for the 2022 ballot. The constitutional amendment would allow 21-year-olds to possess up to one ounce of flower at a time and cultivate as many as six plants in their homes.

Nebraska and Idaho

There’s already a push to get marijuana bills on 2022 ballots in Nebraska and Idaho as well. Nebraskans are after medical marijuana, which polling shows about 65% of the state supports. In Idaho, as much as 73% of voters support legalizing medical marijuana, and the Idaho Cannabis Coalition is to get those voters’ voices heard in 2022.


There’s some chatter that Lonestar State could see legalization soon as well. Polling from the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune found 53% of voters there would legalize recreational marijuana in some capacity, and 84% said they agree with the idea of allowing medical marijuana.

Still, 16% of those polled said they believe all forms of marijuana should remain banned. The state is heavily divided politically when it comes to cannabis. 66% of Democrats are fine with adult-use weed, compared with 39% of Republicans.

The senior population remains strongly against the “any use” category provided in the poll. The numbers of people who believe the punishment for marijuana possession should be reduced in Texas are much higher, however: 79% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans think the law should lighten up.