In a survey conducted in 1969, only four percent of Americans admitted to ever using cannabis in their lives. According to a new Gallup poll, that number has skyrocketed to 45%-nearly half of the population. 12% of those who have tried it are current users of the plant.
Clearly, public opinion of cannabis is shifting toward a more favorable light-and legalization has opened doors for individuals that probably wouldn’t have consumed it before. Thirty states in the US have legal medical cannabis in some form or another, and those dissatisfied with the pharmaceutical approach to care have started gravitating toward it as an alternative to medications with harmful side-effects such as opioid painkillers. In fact, states with legalized medical cannabis have seen a decline in such prescriptions under the Medicaid program.
What used to be a taboo substance, once commonly thought to be only consumed by slackers, criminals and other varieties of ne’er-do-well, is becoming treated as the legitimate medicine that it is. And that prompts more people to experiment with it, even if they end up declining to use it regularly or currently.
It is also worth noting that legalization, to some, suggests that cannabis might not be as immoral as they had once thought. To those who look to the government for guidance as to what is safe and moral to use, this is a big deal.
Even though over half of the country has embraced medical cannabis, there is still a significant amount of opposition not only from the federal government, but from anti-pot groups all over the country. These factors undoubtedly contribute as hurdles to the acceptance of cannabis nationwide, but the stigma is already noticeably fading. As more states follow and bring a regulated cannabis market to their people, it can be reasonably expected that the percentage of people using cannabis will increase as well.