American attitudes towards cannabis have shifted radically over recent years. Just a few decades ago, cannabis was illegal everywhere in the U.S. Fast forward to today, and it’s legal in some form in nearly half of all states.
In many ways, the evolution of the cannabis industry has paralleled the evolution of the real estate industry. Once sold by shady dealers, cannabis is now sold by highly trained “budtenders” in million-dollar dispensaries. Similarly, a real estate industry once monopolized by traditional agents has been remade by online brokerages like Redfin, freelance cash buyers, and discount real estate brokers.
In both cases, consumer education led to change and innovation. As more people have realized cannabis is safer than they thought, they’ve pushed lawmakers to legalize it — just as home sellers who realized they shouldn’t have to pay high real estate commissions led to the emergence of the flat fee real estate broker.
A recent study by Real Estate Witch surveyed 1,000 Americans about their views on cannabis usage and legalization, and found some interesting patterns. Read on to find out what Americans really think about cannabis!
1. Over Two-Thirds of Americans Support Full Cannabis Legalization
The Real Estate Witch survey found overwhelming support for marijuana legalization, with 67% of respondents in favor of full legalization. This support has grown explosively in recent years.
2. Fewer Americans Have Serious Concerns About Cannabis
In a 2014 CNN poll, half of surveyed respondents said marijuana was a “serious problem.” Today, only 3 in 10 respondents characterize it as a “serious problem” — a major shift in less than a decade.
3. Some Americans Are Still on the Fence, Though
There are still some anti-cannabis holdouts. Real Estate Witch found 1 in 11 Americans (9%) are against legalization in any form. Nearly a quarter of respondents, or 24%, only support legalization of medical cannabis.
4. Less Than Half of Americans Strongly Support Expunging Cannabis-Related Convictions
Only 48% of overall respondents said they “strongly” support expunging nonviolent cannabis-related records of convicted offenders.
Those numbers go way up among legalization supporters. Of people who support full cannabis legalization, 84% support expunging criminal records of marijuana-related offenders. Predictably, that number goes way down among legalization opponents — only 17% of whom support expunging records.
5. There Is Still a Small But Substantial Opposition to Cannabis Legalization
Nearly one-fifth of Americans, or 19%, “strongly” support keeping cannabis illegal at the federal level. In addition, 11% “somewhat” support keeping it illegal at the federal level.
That means nearly a third of respondents, or 30%, are against federal legalization of cannabis.
6. However, Support for Expunging Convictions Goes up After the Fact
After President Joe Biden proposed pardoning anyone federally convicted for simple marijuana possession, polling showed that 69% of Americans supported the decision. This suggests that people may be more supportive of pardons and expunging criminal records after it’s already been done.
7. More Americans Support Medical Cannabis Legalization Than Recreational Cannabis Legalization
About 84% of Americans said they’d vote for medical cannabis legalization, and 70% said they’d vote for recreational cannabis legalization.
8. Surprisingly, Medical Cannabis Has More Support Than CBD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical extracted from cannabis that has many purported health benefits, but doesn’t give users the same high that comes from conventional cannabis. CBD is very popular, and the CBD market is projected to grow to $25 billion by 2025.
But interestingly, more respondents supported medical cannabis legalization than full CBD legalization. While 84% supported medical cannabis being legalized, only 75% supported CBD legalization.
This suggests that the “medical” designation is a very powerful opinion mover, and that many Americans may oppose recreational cannabis legalization on the grounds of “recreational use” as much as the cannabis itself.
9. The Average American Doesn’t Think Cannabis Legalization Is a Pressing Issue
Out of 10 issues facing the U.S. today, survey respondents ranked cannabis legalization as the ninth-most important, ahead of only LGBT rights.
Not surprisingly, Americans rated inflation as the most urgent issue, with 21% of respondents saying it’s the most important issue to tackle now, followed by health care, gun violence/crime, affordable housing, abortion/reproductive rights, race/racial issues, immigration, and climate change.
10. Still, Americans Are More Likely to Say Cannabis Legalization, Rather Than Immigration, Is the Country’s Top Issue
Digging into the data, 8% of respondents said cannabis legalization is the most urgent issue in the U.S. right now, while only 7% said immigration is the most urgent issue. Going further down the list, only 6% said LGBTQ rights/equality is the most urgent issue, and only 5% identified race/racial issues as the most urgent.
These results suggest that many of the political “wedge” issues that get a lot of airtime on TV and social media may not be as important to everyday Americans.
11. A Majority of Legalization Opponents Admit They Don’t Know Much About Cannabis
About 59% of respondents who don’t support legalization in any form said they also don’t feel knowledgeable about cannabis or cannabis legalization.
Legalization opponents are a staggering 833% more likely than legalization supporters to believe that cannabis is less safe than other drugs. That breaks down to 3% of legalization supporters thinking cannabis is less safe than other drugs, compared with 28% of opponents thinking it’s less safe.
12. Some Cannabis Opposition Seems to Rest on Misconceptions
Of legalization opponents, around 42% believe cannabis is about as safe as tobacco, while 39% believe tobacco is actually safer than cannabis.
Among legalization opponents, 41% believe drinking alcohol is safer than cannabis, 43% believe prescription painkillers are safer than cannabis, and 28% believe “other types of drugs” such as cocaine, MDMA, etc., are safer than cannabis.
13. Nearly Half of Americans Believe Cannabis Is Much Safer Than Alcohol
Real Estate Witch’s survey found that 47% of Americans believe cannabis is “much more safe” than drinking alcohol.
14. Gen Zers Are Twice as Likely as Millennials to Oppose Legalization
There’s a common perception that younger people are more liberal than middle-aged or older Americans, but the survey found that isn’t always true.
Gen Zers are 133% more likely than millennials to oppose legalization in any form. Gen Z appears relatively conservative when it comes to cannabis issues. How conservative are they?
15. Gen Z Is More Likely to Oppose Cannabis Legalization Than Baby Boomers
Surprisingly, Gen Z is less likely than millennials and baby boomers to support cannabis legalization of any kind. This conservative turn in the younger generation could have far-ranging political and cultural impacts if it persists as this generation ages.
16. Nearly Three-Quarters of Respondents Have Used Cannabis
A solid 70% of respondents have used cannabis recreationally at some point. The generational breakdown is 52% of baby boomers, 68% of Gen X, 78% of millennials, and 68% of Gen Z.
17. Many Respondents Have Only Used Cannabis Once
Millennials are least likely to have used cannabis just once. Baby boomers are 186% more likely than millennials to have only used it once, and Gen Z is 143% more likely than millennials to say they have only used it once.
This unusual distribution is likely explained by the simple fact that cannabis was widely prohibited when boomers were young, and many members of Gen Z are still school-aged young adults.
18. Support for Legalization Varies Widely by Race
A recent Politico poll found that, while strong majorities in every race support legalization, the size of the majority varies between races.
According to Politico, 58% of white voters, 67% of Hispanic voters, and 72% of Black voters support cannabis legalization.
19. Nearly Three-Quarters of Americans Believe Legalizing Cannabis Will Improve the Economy
About 44% of respondents said legalizing cannabis would “significantly” improve states’ economies, while 27% said it would help “somewhat.” In all, 71% of respondents thought legalization made good economic sense.
Of the remainder, 17% thought legalization would neither help nor hurt economies, 7% thought it would hurt economies “somewhat,” and 5% thought it would hurt states’ economies “significantly.”
20. Legalizing Cannabis Does, in Fact, Improve Economies
The 71% of respondents who think cannabis legalization will help local economies appear to be right. According to a 2022 Leafly jobs report, the cannabis industry is worth $25 billion in the U.S., and has created over 428,000 full-time equivalent jobs as of January 2022. For the past five years, the industry has seen annual jobs growth of over 27%.
21. In States Where Cannabis Is Legal, People Disagree on Legalization’s Effects
About 28% of respondents in states where cannabis is legal said legalization made residents happier, while 8% said it made residents less happy. When it comes to crime, 15% said legalization reduced crime, and 12% said it increased crime.
22. Cannabis Use Is Quite Polarized
A quarter of respondents (25%) regularly use cannabis, while 30% have never used it. As with many issues in American cultural life, people are far apart on cannabis use.
23. For Some, Legalization of Cannabis Increased Their Consumption
More than a third of respondents in legal states (35%) said legalization changed their usage, with 18% saying it increased their usage.
Interestingly, a matching 35% of respondents in illegal states also said that legalization would change their usage. Of those people, 12% said that they would start using cannabis if it became legal.
The takeaway? There are a lot of potential cannabis users out there who are waiting for it to become legal.
24. But the Law is Far from the Top Deterrent for Potential Cannabis Users
Only 25% of those who have never used cannabis said they abstained because it was illegal. The top reason for not using cannabis, cited by 61% of respondents, was simply because they didn’t want to.
In addition, 17% abstained because they believed cannabis use was dangerous.
25. Many Americans Believe Cannabis Legalization Could Lead to People Moving Between States
If a state legalizes cannabis, about 41% of Americans think more people will move to that state, while 19% believe more people will move to places where it remains illegal. What’s most surprising here isn’t that legalization could be a big draw, but that for some places, keeping prohibition in place could also draw people. This reordering could have an economic ripple effect as those with pro- and anti-cannabis views sell their homes and move to states that are more in line with their cannabis values.
26. Significant Shares of People Would Consider Moving If Local Cannabis Laws Changed
For Americans in states where cannabis is already legal, about 43% said they’d consider moving if cannabis became illegal again. On the other hand, 22% of people in illegal states said they’d consider moving out of their state and finding a new house or apartment in a different state where cannabis was still illegal.
27. For the Many Americans, Cannabis Has No Negative Impact on Real Estate Values
About 48% of respondents said they’d pay fair market value for a home near cannabis-related amenities like a dispensary or “weed lounge.” Another 22% said they’d pay above the market rate for a home near cannabis-related businesses.
This suggests homeowners shouldn’t worry about their home value if a dispensary opens up down the street.
28. Almost Three-Quarters of Americans Don’t Mind If Their Neighbors Use Cannabis
About 73% of respondents said they wouldn’t be deterred from buying a home in an area where the neighbors smoked cannabis.
In fact, 44% said they wouldn’t care if a neighbor used cannabis in view of their home, and 32% would actually support it.
29. There’s Less Support for Cannabis Businesses Next Door
A third of respondents (33%) said they’d support a cannabis business next door, and 34% said they’d support a weed lounge next door.
30. Cannabis Legalization Boosts Home Values
Americans’ positive statements on the issues above are consistent with other research showing cannabis legalization can increase home values.
According to one study, cities with retail cannabis dispensaries saw home values increase roughly $23,000 more than cities where marijuana was illegal over a five-year stretch.
This positive effect on home values can boost the local economy in many ways, from bringing in new tax revenue to encouraging the growth of innovative companies.
31. But Some Americans Incorrectly Believe Legalization Hurts Home Values
About 17% of Americans think cannabis legalization drives home values down, including 6% who believe legalization “significantly” hurts home values. Those people might change their attitudes about cannabis if they see their own home values rise following legalization.