Research Reveals Consistent Support for Cannabis Legalization in the US

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Several recent survey results, including from the Pew Research Center, show an increase in support and interest in cannabis in the US.

On March 26, 2024, Pew Research Center released a report on survey results regarding opinions on cannabis in the US (1). The study was conducted from January 16–21, 2024 and collected data from 5,140 adults representative of the US population in several categories (1). One of the major findings was that only 11% of respondents stated that cannabis should not be legal at all (1). The majority (57% of respondents) stated that cannabis should be legal for both recreational and medical uses, and 32% stated that it should be legal for medical uses only (1). “Opinions about marijuana legalization have changed little over the past five years,” the report noted (1).

The study also reported data on the perceived impacts of cannabis legalization, with 52% of respondents stating that legalizing cannabis is good for local economies, 29% stating that it produces no effect, and 17% stating that it is bad for local economies (1). “More adults also say legalizing marijuana for recreational use makes the criminal justice system more fair (42%) than less fair (18%); 38% say it has no impact,” the study added (1).


The study also broke down the data based on partisan differences, ages, and race and ethnicity, observing several conclusions including (1):

  • Views of cannabis legalization vary by age within both parties [Republican, Democrat]
  • Older adults are far less likely than younger adults to favor legalization
  • Substantial shares of Americans across racial and ethnic groups state that recreational cannabis has a more positive than negative impact on the economy and criminal justice system
  • There are wide racial differences regarding the impact of recreational cannabis on the use of other drugs and the safety of communities

In a separate study, Pew Research Center also recently collected data on the number of Americans living in states with legal cannabis and on the number of dispensaries in each state (2). In February 2024, it reported that 79% of all Americans live in a state with at least one cannabis dispensary, with California having the most dispensaries by far—over 3600 out of the 15,000 total in the US (2). “These changes in state law come as a broad majority of Americans say marijuana should be legal in some way,” the study noted, citing its 2022 survey (2). Additionally, most Americans (54%) live in a state with legal recreational cannabis, and 74% live in a state with either medical or recreational cannabis (2).

According to a report earlier this year from BioWellnessX, a producer of hemp-derived tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) products, search trends indicated that Mississippi residents have shown the most interest in medical cannabis in 2024 (3). After analyzing state populations and monthly search data from Google on keywords related to medical cannabis, Mississippi showed 294.59 searches per 100,000 residents, followed by Arkansas and Alaska with 233 and 222 searches per 100,000 residents, respectively (3). There were nearly 500,000 monthly searches nationwide (3). “A total of 488,230 monthly searches nationwide signifies that medical marijuana has become a mainstream topic across the US,” the study stated (3).


  1. Most Americans favor legalizing marijuana for medical, recreational use. Pew Research Center. (accessed Apr 2, 2024).
  2. Most Americans now live in a legal marijuana state – and most have at least one dispensary in their county. Pew Research Center. (accessed Apr 2, 2024).
  3. Which States Are The Most Obsessed With Medical Marijuana In 2024? BiowellnessX. (accessed Apr 2, 2024).