13% of U.S. Adults Say They Smoke Marijuana, Up From 7% in 2013

Susan Jones | August 8, 2016 | 5:29am EDT
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A scene from the annual 4/20 marijuana festival in Denver, Colorado. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

(CNSNews.com) - Thirteen percent of adults in the United States say they currently smoke marijuana, nearly double the 7 percent who admitting to smoking pot just three years ago, a new Gallup Poll found.

As part of its July 13-17 Consumption Habits poll, Gallup asked poll participants, "Keeping in mind that all of your answers in this survey are confidential, do you, yourself, smoke marijuana?"

While 13 percent said yes, they are current users, 43 percent admitted to trying it, up from 38 percent in 2013. The percentage of Americans who say they have tried the drug has slowly increased from 4 percent in 1969.

Gallup noted that although use of the drug is prohibited by federal law, four states plus the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of pot, and five states will vote on whether to legalize marijuana in November (California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine, and Massachusetts).

Half of the states have passed some type of medical marijuana law, and another four will vote on that in November (Arkansas, Florida, Montana, Missouri).

Gallup attributes the increase in current marijuana users to states' willingness to legalize marijuana. People in the western U.S., where four states have legalized recreational pot (Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon) were "significantly more likely" to say they smoke marijuana than those in other parts of the country.

Age and religion are "key predictors" of currents marijuana use, Gallup found.

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Using aggregated data from 2013, 2015 and 2016, Gallup says only 2 perent of weekly churchgoers and 7 percent of less frequent attenders admitted to using marijuana, but this rises to 14 percent of those who seldom or never attend a religious service.

Almost one in five adults (19 percent) under the age of 30 report currently using marijuana -- at least double the rate seen among each older age group.

Income and education levels don't seem strongly related to an individual's likelihood of having tried marijuana. Americans who live in households that make less than $30,000 were slightly more likely to report currently using it, however, at 14 percent.

The bottom line, according to Gallup: "As nine states vote on various levels of marijuana legalization this fall, 2016 could mark a significant legal shift on the issue. Recreational use could become legal in as many as nine states (up from only four today), and medicinal use could become legal in an additional four states."

Gallup notes that a "clear majority" of Americans support legalizing the drug, and with more states considering some type of legalization, "it's likely that use of and experimentation with marijuana will increase."

Gallup bases its poll results on telephone interviews conducted July 13-17, 2016, with a random sample of 1,023 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The questions reported here are based on half samples of approximately 500 adults each. For results based on these samples of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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