By Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Anthony Salvanto
Most Americans – six in 10 - think marijuana should be legal. Supporters of legalization are especially likely to think it is less dangerous than other drugs. Opponents say marijuana legalization leads to an increase in crime and use of other illegal drugs. As recently as 2011, just over half Americans said marijuana use should not be legal.
Six in 10 think legalizing marijuana should be left up to each state government to decide rather than be decided by the federal government, a view that cuts across party lines. While this is particularly true of Americans who think marijuana use should be legal, even those who think it should illegal tend to think the issue should be left up to the states.
Marijuana Compared to Alcohol and Other Drugs
Fifty-one percent of Americans say alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. Only nine percent think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol.
And more than six in 10 Americans say marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs, particularly those who have tried marijuana themselves.
Americans are also skeptical that legalizing marijuana use will lead to other problems, such as more drug use or crime. Just about a quarter of Americans think that legalizing marijuana use either makes people more likely to use other illegal drugs or increases the number of violent crimes. Those who oppose legalizing marijuana use tend to see things differently – over half who oppose legalization think it leads to both of those things.
Who Supports Legalization?
Support for legalization is strong among most age groups, particularly those under 35. Seniors remain the one age group for whom more think marijuana use should be illegal rather than legal.
There are partisan differences. Most Democrats and independents increasingly think marijuana use should be legal, while Republicans are divided.
One in two Americans have tried marijuana at some point in their lives – the same as what has been recorded over the past two years.
This poll was conducted by telephone April 11-15, 2018 among a random sample of 1,004 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.
The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.
Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.
The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.
This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.