Who wants to legalize marijuana in the United States?

Pavel Prikhodko, Ph.D. Machine Learning

After many years of debate, California became the first state in the United States to legalize medical marijuana in 1996. As of 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use. Despite some forms of legalization, thousands of American people think that marijuana should be legalized for free use.

According to a survey published by Statista.com, almost 70 percent of total number of Millennials (those who aged 18-33) stated that marijuana use should be legal. The numbers of white Millennials and non-white Millennials who replied in favor of legalizing marijuana were 73 percent and 63 percent respectively. The total share of Generation X (aged 34–49) who wanted to legalize marijuana in America was 53 percent, compared to 42 percent of respondents who stated that marijuana should be illegal. The number of White Generation X representatives who replied that marijuana should be legal was 58 percent, while the share of non-white people aged 34-49 was 44 percent in 2014.

If we examine the Boomer generation (aged 50-68), we can see that 52 percent were for legalization, while 45 percent who thought that marijuana use should be illegal. The numbers of White and Non-White Boomers respondents replied in favor of legalizing marijuana were the same: 52 percent. Members of the Silent generation (aged 69-86) mostly considered marijuana a dangerous drug and thought that it shouldn’t be legalized for free use – 65 percent against versus 30 percent for legalization.


The representatives of two main American parties (Democrats and Republicans) held different opinions regarding marijuana in 2014. For example, 60 percent of Democrats thought that marijuana should be legal, while 32 percent thought it should remain illegal. The share of Republicans who were for legalization was only 37 percent, comparing to 67 percent who believed that marijuana should be banned.


Statista.com gives some revealing information about marijuana use among American adults. In 2015, about 44 percent of respondents confessed that they have tried marijuana at least once in their life. More than 50 percent stated they haven’t tried marijuana, and only 1 percent of surveyed respondents said that they have no opinion.
Statistics regarding school students who have tried marijuana show some interesting results. We can analyze the percentage of students in grades from 9 to 12 who were using marijuana at least one time during previous 30 days in 2013. The number of students in grades 9 to 12 who used marijuana at least once in the past 30 days grew in 2013 (depending on their grade). The share of the school students in 9th grade who confessed that they smoked marijuana at least one time was 17.7 percent. About 23.5 percent of students in 10th grade stated they smoked a drug during previous month. The shares of young smokers in 11th and 12th grades were 25.5 percent and 27.7 percent respectively.


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About Pavel Prikhodko

Pavel Prikhodko, Ph.D. Machine Learning

Pavel has worked for many years as a researcher and developer on a wide range of applications (varying from mechanics and manufacturing to social data, finance and advertising), building predictive systems and trying to find stories that data can tell.

In his free time, he enjoys being with his family.

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