Most Americans support medical marijuana but are divided on legalizing recreational weed

Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

More Americans favor some form of marijuana legalization than oppose it, an exclusive new Yahoo News/Marist Poll, “Weed & the American Family,” found.

And that’s especially true for medical marijuana. According to the survey of 1,122 adults conducted March 1 through 7, more than eight in 10 (83 percent) support legalizing pot for medicinal purposes. Nearly all marijuana users (98 percent) back legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, including 94 percent of those who have tried marijuana at least once. And 88 percent of millennials agree.

When it comes to recreational marijuana, the country is much more divided. According to the poll, 49 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, while 47 percent oppose it. But a majority of parents (53 percent) oppose recreational use. Those who support legalization of recreational marijuana include an overwhelming 89 percent of pot users and 70 percent of people who have tried using it.

By way of comparison, a Gallup Poll in October 2016 found the highest-ever level of support for legalizing marijuana — 60 percent — although that question didn’t distinguish between medical and recreational use.

Currently, 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing medical marijuana. Eight, including Colorado, Washington and Oregon, plus D.C., have now legalized recreational marijuana.

Meanwhile, a majority (65 percent) of Americans surveyed by the Yahoo News/Marist Poll think the Trump administration should either continue the Obama administration’s policy of allowing states to decide their own policies toward recreational marijuana or loosen up federal pot restrictions. Thirty percent think the Trump administration should be tougher when it comes to enforcing those laws.

And while there is broad support for medical marijuana, Americans are split on whether pot should be prescribed to children if it is legal and medically indicated. According to the Yahoo News/Marist Poll, 47 percent of adults — and 48 percent of parents — believe that it should be allowed, compared with 46 percent of Americans and 44 percent of parents who disagree.

One thing most Americans agree about is pot and pregnancy: 69 percent of Americans do not think it is acceptable for a pregnant woman to use marijuana to ease the discomfort of her pregnancy, including nearly half of pot users.


Read more from the Yahoo Weed & the American Family series: