🌿Does the average American want cannabis dispensaries in their backyard? 🌿
Nah, not really. Only 52% of Americans would consider buying a home next door to a recreational cannabis dispensary. However, 69% say they would buy a home within a 1-mile radius of a cannabis dispensary.
Level of Support for Cannabis Legalization | Differences Between Supporters & Non-Supporters | Generational Differences | Pros & Cons of Legalizing Cannabis | Social Aspects of Cannabis Consumption | Cannabis & Real Estate | FAQ
Politics in the U.S. are always exasperating, and this year is no exception. With midterm elections around the corner in November, Americans have some big decisions to make on ballot measures ranging from abortion rights to cannabis legalization.
Five states — Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Maryland — have recreational cannabis legalization on their ballots next month. Despite still being illegal at the federal level, states around the country have decided to legalize recreational or medical cannabis within their jurisdictions. Only six have chosen to make cannabis fully illegal with no medical exemption: Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, South Carolina, and North Carolina (where it is, however, decriminalized).
Cannabis has been one of the most controversial plants for over a century in the U.S. In the early 1900s, cannabis opponents launched a campaign against it that was so successful, one of the most common terms for it — marijuana — is now commonly used around the country, despite having racist origins.
We surveyed 1,000 Americans on cannabis and subjects related to its legalization, including how they regularly refer to cannabis. We found that “weed” is the most commonly used term at 37%. Marijuana is the second most popular at 33%, followed by cannabis at 12%.
To avoid using a term many perceive as racist and to refer to its legal and scientific name, we refer to weed as cannabis throughout the study.
Read on to find out more about Americans’ support for cannabis laws, personal use habits, and how it might fare at the polls.
🌿Quick Stats: American Opinions on Cannabis 🌿
- 67% of Americans support full cannabis legalization. Learn more.👇
- The average American doesn’t think cannabis legalization is the most pressing issue the country faces. Inflation ranks first, while LGBTQ rights is the only issue ranked lower than cannabis legalization.👇
- Only 1 in 12 Americans (8%) say cannabis legalization is the No. 1 issue in the U.S. today.
- 84% of Americans say they’d vote in favor of medical cannabis legalization, whereas 70% say they’d vote for recreational cannabis legalization.👇
- 59% of respondents who say they “don’t support cannabis legalization in any form” do not feel knowledgeable about topics on legalization.👇
- Gen Z is 133% more likely than millennials to not support legalization in any form.👇
- 71% of Americans believe legalizing cannabis improves states’ economies.👇
- 70% of respondents have used cannabis at some point in their lives for recreational purposes.👇
- 41% of Americans think a migration toward states with legal recreational cannabis will occur.👇
- 70% of Americans would pay fair market value or above for a house near cannabis-related amenities.👇
- 56% would consider buying a home next door to a medical cannabis dispensary.👇
- 27% of Americans think cannabis legalization increases home values in a state where it’s legal.👇
- 1 in 6 Americans wrongly think cannabis legalization decreases home values.
67% of Americans Support Full Cannabis Legalization
Cannabis stigma is not as prevalent as it was a hundred years ago. A strong majority of Americans support fully legalizing cannabis (67%), but 24% only support the legalization of medical cannabis. A significant 1 in 11 respondents don’t support the legalization of cannabis in any form.
Americans are also fairly divided on cannabis-related laws beyond consumption, such as expunging criminal records for cannabis possession and legalizing the sale of cannabis between two adults.
Only 48% of those surveyed say they strongly support expunging nonviolent, cannabis-related records of convicted offenders. However, 84% of those who say they support full cannabis legalization also support removing or expunging records of convicted offenders. That makes full-legalization supporters 5x more likely than those who don’t support legalization in any form to approve of expunging records. Only 17% of those who don’t support legalization in any form support expunging records.
In addition, only 19% of respondents strongly support keeping cannabis illegal at the federal level, followed by 11% who “somewhat” support keeping it illegal at the federal level.
More Americans Would Vote for Medical Cannabis Legalization Than Recreational Cannabis Legalization
About 84% of Americans state they’d vote in favor of medical cannabis legalization, whereas only 70% say they’d vote for recreational cannabis legalization.
Surprisingly, more people would support medical cannabis legalization than legalizing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical extracted from cannabis that has many purported health benefits and is known for not causing the “high” associated with unadulterated cannabis. Despite CBD’s less sensationalized reputation, Americans would rather vote for medical cannabis (84%) than cannabidiol (75%).
This suggests that Americans may view medical cannabis as a more legitimate product — or that some don’t want any form of cannabis legalized that isn’t strictly for medicinal use.
It also appears that although some people may not personally support full legalization, they still may put aside their own opinions and vote in favor of legalization.
The Average American Thinks Cannabis Legalization Is One of the Country’s Least-Pressing Issues
A surprising number of Americans didn’t approve of legalizing CBD, so we wanted to know exactly how important cannabis legalization is compared to other political issues.
Based on the average ranking, Americans say inflation is the most important topic, and LGBT rights is the least important:
- Health care
- Gun violence/crime
- Affordable housing
- Abortion/reproductive rights
- Race and racial issues
- Climate change
- Cannabis legalization
- LGBTQ rights
Inflation received the most No. 1 votes, with more than 1 in 5 Americans (21%) saying it’s the most important issue. Meanwhile, 1 in 12 Americans (8%) thinks cannabis legalization is the country’s most important issue.
The issues that received the most No. 1 votes are as follows:
- Inflation (21%)
- Gun violence/crime (13%)
- Health care (12%)
- Climate change (10%)
- Abortion/reproductive rights (9%)
- Affordable housing (9%)
- Cannabis legalization (8%)
- Immigration (7%)
- LGBTQ rights (6%)
- Race and racial issues (5%)
Although Americans say cannabis legalization isn’t the most pressing issue in the country, it still outranks other important topics, such as racial issues, LGBT rights, and immigration policy reform.
These issues may feel like macro-level policies that the average American thinks they have little control over, whereas cannabis legalization can affect their day-to-day lives — and maybe make daily stressors caused by politics more manageable.
59% Of Americans Who Don’t Support Cannabis Legalization Also Admit They Don’t Know Much About Cannabis
Americans aren’t much concerned with the legal status of cannabis. That may be because a significant number of them aren’t educated on the topic. About 59% of respondents who “don’t support cannabis legalization in any form” say they do not feel knowledgeable about topics pertaining to legalization.
Those who say they “don’t support cannabis legalization in any form” are 833% more likely than those who support “both medical and recreational legalization” to believe that cannabis is less safe than other drugs, although that’s generally not the case. That means just 3% of those who support both forms of legalization think it’s less safe, compared to 28% who do not support legalization in any form.
Approximately 42% of those who say they “don’t support cannabis legalization in any form” believe that cannabis has the same level of safety as tobacco, while 39% say they believe cannabis is less safe than tobacco.
Here’s how non-supporters think cannabis stacks up in terms of safety to other drugs:
- 41% believe cannabis is less safe than drinking alcohol
- 43% believe cannabis is less safe than prescription painkillers
- 28% believe cannabis is less safe than “other types of drugs” such as MDMA, cocaine, etc.
Overall, 3 in 5 Americans (62%) believe cannabis is “much more safe” than other types of drugs (excluding tobacco, alcohol, and painkillers). Nearly half (47%) believe cannabis is “much more safe” than drinking alcohol.
Despite the common perception that cannabis is fairly dangerous compared to other drugs, the research doesn’t actually back that up. Cannabis is generally safer than consuming alcohol and smoking cigarettes, according to multiple studies. It is also being researched as a safer alternative to painkillers amid the opioid epidemic.
Gen Z Is 2x More Likely Than Millennials to Oppose Legalization in Any Form
Gen Z’s attitude toward cannabis legalization and related topics is surprising. They’re actually more likely than millennials to be against legalizing CBD. This goes against the common perception that older generations tend to be more conservative than young generations.
In fact, Gen Z is 133% more likely than millennials to not support legalization in any form. Millennials are 29% more likely than Gen Z to support removing and expunging criminal records related to cannabis possession or sales. Gen Z is the least likely generation to support the decriminalization of use and possession. Yes, even less so than boomers!
Interestingly, boomers are the least likely to support keeping it illegal at the federal level. Perhaps older generations value individual rights and state sovereignty more than younger generations after all.
About 70% of respondents have used cannabis at some point in their lives for recreational purposes, including:
- 68% of Gen Z
- 78% of millennials
- 68% of Gen X
- 52% of boomers
Millennials are 50% more likely than boomers to have used cannabis recreationally at least once in their lives.
Of those who have used cannabis recreationally, boomers are 186% more likely than millennials to have only used it once. Gen Zers who have used cannabis recreationally are 143% more likely than millennials to have used it only once, which makes sense because many are still young adults or school-aged.
71% of Americans Believe Legalizing Cannabis Improves States’ Economies
Beyond personal feelings, many Americans may support cannabis legalization for economic reasons. About 44% of respondents think legalizing cannabis significantly improves states’ economies, and 27% think it helps somewhat. Seventeen percent think it neither helps nor hurts the economy, 7% think it hurts somewhat, and 5% think it hurts states’ economies significantly.
The 44% who think legalizing cannabis benefits states’ economies are correct, according to the research. The 2022 Leafly jobs report found that the cannabis industry is worth $25 billion in the U.S. alone and has created 428,059 full-time equivalent jobs supported by legal cannabis as of January 2022.
In 2021, the cannabis industry created an average of 280 new jobs per day. That’s a 33% increase in jobs from the previous year. It also marks the fifth year in a row of annual jobs growth greater than 27% in the industry.
More than one-quarter of respondents (27%) in legal states believe legalization helped the economy. Respondents in legal states also report that legalizing cannabis made residents happier (28%) and reduced crime (15%). At the same time, 12% think it increased crime, and 8% think it made residents less happy.
Americans in Illegal States’ Assumptions About Legalization Match Observations From Those in Legal States
It appears that folks in states where cannabis is illegal are much more optimistic than those where it has been legalized. 43% think it will help the economy, 39% think it will make residents happier, and 33% think it will lead to less crime.
For the most part, respondents feel the same about cannabis legalization, regardless of where they live. About 43% of respondents in legal states felt happy when cannabis was legalized, and 42% of respondents in illegal states say they would feel happy if cannabis was legalized.
70% of Respondents Have Used Cannabis at Some Point in Their Lives for Recreational Purposes
The percentage of Americans who support full cannabis legalization (67%) is almost identical to the percentage who have tried cannabis at least once (70%). It’s what you’d expect, based on the logic that most people will support legalizing a product they use.
One-fourth of respondents (25%) state they regularly use cannabis, whereas 30% report they have never used cannabis. Of the respondents who have used cannabis for recreation, 30% haven’t used it for recreation since before the pandemic in 2020. Out of all respondents who have used cannabis recreationally, 35% do so regularly.
42% of respondents use cannabis on at least a weekly basis, which is what would be considered a “regular user.” Ten percent use cannabis less than weekly but at least once a month.
If it were alcohol, these respondents would be considered “social users,” similar to the term “social drinkers.” About 15% use cannabis once or a couple of times per year, indicating that a significant portion of Americans aren’t regular users, but they do enjoy cannabis every once in a while, perhaps for a special occasion.
1 in 6 Americans Says Cannabis Legalization Made Them Increase Their Consumption
About 35% of respondents living in legalized states say legalization impacted their usage, which mirrors what Americans living in illegal states have shared about their habits. An equal 35% of respondents in illegal states say that legalization would impact their usage, so it’s clear that legalization has or would personally impact at least one-third of the population
What’s more, 18% of Americans say cannabis legalization made them increase their consumption. This indicates that although many Americans use cannabis despite its illegal status where they live, legalization would make many feel more comfortable using it for the first time or using it more often.
One-third of Americans (35%) who live in states that have not yet legalized cannabis say legalization would impact their habits. Of those, 23% say they would use cannabis more often, and 12% say they would start using cannabis.
A significant portion of Americans refrains from using cannabis not because they’re against it but rather because they don’t want to risk any legal trouble because of its illegal status.
The No. 1 Reason Americans Forgo Cannabis: They Just Don’t Wanna
Cannabis is legal at the state level in 19 jurisdictions, but it’s still illegal at the federal level, which is a huge deterrent for respondents who say they don’t use cannabis (25%).
However, 61% of Americans who don’t use cannabis say they just don’t want to use it. Interestingly, 17% think cannabis consumption is dangerous and cite that as a reason why they don’t partake in its use.
41% of Americans Think a Migration Toward States With Legal Recreational Cannabis Will Occur
Regardless of how Americans actually feel, many think that other Americans want to move wherever cannabis is legal. Approximately 41% think more people will move to areas where cannabis is legal, while 19% think more people will move to areas where cannabis is illegal. Overall, Americans think that cannabis legalization is a draw and not a deterrent for those on the move.
What’s more, 40% think cannabis legalization doesn’t have an impact on real estate, despite some evidence that many Americans say they would move to states where cannabis is legal for that reason.
About 43% of Americans in legal states would consider moving if their state revoked cannabis legalization, yet 57% say they would remain regardless. More than half of respondents (51%) in states where cannabis is illegal say they would consider moving to a state where cannabis is legal, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the reason for the move.
Among respondents in illegal states, 49% would not move regardless of legalization, but 22% would consider leaving their state if cannabis did become legal.
70% of Americans Would Pay Market Value or Above for a House Near Cannabis-Related Amenities
Some Americans feel so strongly against cannabis that they would consider uprooting their entire life if it became legal, but the majority of Americans just don’t care. Nearly three-quarters of respondents (70%) say they would still pay fair market value or above for a house near a cannabis-related amenity, such as a dispensary or “weed lounge.”
About 22% would actually pay above market rate for a house near a cannabis-related amenity. For some home buyers, cannabis amenities can be seen as an upside to a home’s location. Home sellers, in turn, shouldn’t be too concerned about a cannabis shop opening near their home affecting the sale price.
Nearly 3 in 4 Americans Would Not Be Deterred From Buying a Home Where the Neighbors Smoked Cannabis
On trend with previous results related to personal choice versus others’ actions, nearly 3 in 4 Americans (73%) would not be deterred from buying a home where the neighbors smoke cannabis.
And despite cigarettes being legal, they seem to evoke stronger negative emotions than cannabis, especially regarding their smell. Americans are 26% more likely to say they’d buy a home that smelled of cannabis over a house that smelled of cigarette smoke.
For the most part, it seems that Americans are comfortable living near cannabis users and businesses as long as they don’t negatively impact their day-to-day lives.
A significant percentage of Americans generally don’t mind being around cannabis amenities, even next door to one. About 44% say they don’t care at all if a neighbor publicly uses cannabis in view of their house, while 32% actually support it.
A third of respondents (33%) would support a cannabis business operating next door to their home, and just more than one-third (34%) would support a weed lounge opening next door.
27% of Americans Think Cannabis Legalization Increases Home Values in a State
Approximately 1 in 6 Americans (17%) wrongly think cannabis legalization decreases home values, and 6% think legalization significantly decreases home values.
From 2014 to 2019, we found that in cities that allowed retail dispensaries, home values increased by $22,888 more than in cities where recreational cannabis was illegal. For cities where only medicinal cannabis was legal, home values increased at a similar rate to cities where cannabis was illegal.
States that legalize recreational cannabis see an immediate bump in home values following legalization, even without dispensaries. From 2017 to 2019, in cities where recreational cannabis was legal, home values increased by $6,338 more than in cities where cannabis was illegal.
It makes sense considering a majority of Americans (70%) would pay market value or more for a house near a dispensary, weed lounge, or other cannabis amenities. Only 30% of Americans state they would pay less than market value.
Another interesting trend is that respondents from the Northeast are 37% more likely to say they would pay above asking price than respondents from the West on a home near a cannabis-related amenity.
Fully legal states are distributed more across the western half of the U.S. compared to the eastern half. They’ve also been legal for longer. Northeastern states are evenly divided between those that are fully legal and those that only allow medical use, making homes near some sort of cannabis-related amenity a hot commodity.
Our data suggests that despite being a polarizing product, there’s a significant number of Americans who are comfortable buying a home in a legal state and close to cannabis businesses, and they are willing to pay a premium for it.
The proprietary data featured in this study comes from an online survey commissioned by Real Estate Witch. One thousand people were surveyed Sept. 22, 2022. Each respondent answered up to 21 questions related to their voting habits and opinions regarding cannabis use and legalization. For questions concerning cannabis use, only respondents 21 years of age and older were surveyed.
About Real Estate Witch
You shouldn’t need a crystal ball or magical powers to understand real estate. Since 2016, Real Estate Witch has demystified real estate through in-depth guides, honest company reviews, and data-driven research. In 2020, Real Estate Witch was acquired by Clever Real Estate, a free agent-matching service that has helped consumers save more than $82 million on realtor fees. Real Estate Witch’s research has been featured in CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, Chicago Tribune, Black Enterprise, and more.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Where is cannabis legal?
Recreational cannabis is legal in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
What are the pros and cons of legalizing cannabis?
The biggest pros reported by Americans are that legal cannabis improves local economies (43%) and makes residents happier (39%). Americans think the biggest cons are more crime (17%) and increased tax rates (16%). At the same time, however, 33% of Americans think legalizing cannabis actually decreases crime. Find out more about the pros and cons of legalizing cannabis, according to Americans.
How many Americans consume cannabis (or smoke weed)?
According to our research, 70% of Americans have consumed cannabis at some point in their lives, and 30% use cannabis on at least a weekly basis. Find out more about Americans' cannabis habits.