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Marijuana Legalization Survey: American Beliefs

Who should benefit from marijuana legalization and who can be trusted to create good, equitable cannabis policy? Survey says …

With cannabis rescheduling in the USA looking to proceed and legalization not the pipe dream it once was, it raises questions about who should benefit and how policy is developed – and by whom.

The Parabola Center is a nonpartisan think tank of legal professionals and drug policy experts focused on providing education, access, and expertise to support cannabis legalization policies – but with putting people and small businesses first.

It’s no secret that big companies wield some influence over government policy development, and in the cannabis space it’s no different. But who do Americans think should have more lawmakers’ ears?

A study released by Parobola recently gives us an idea. When asked about who they trust to develop good cannabis policy, respondents chose:

  • 67%: People with lived experience
  • 56%: People who use marijuana
  • 55%: People working for social equity
  • 24%: Pharmaceutical company representatives
  • 22%: The federal government
  • 18%: Tobacco industry executives
  • 13%: Alcohol company executives

That tobacco and alcohol executives ranked so low isn’t surprising given the influence they’ve had and the havoc that has been wreaked by their products. And some tobacco/alcohol companies are keen to sink their hooks deeper into cannabis as consumers drift away from both.

So, when it comes to cannabis policy, what do Americans care about?

  • 68%: Social equity
  • 68%: Ending marijuana arrests
  • 65%: People having access to cannabis
  • 49%: Creating a sharing community
  • 42%: Preserving marijuana culture
  • 27%: Keeping marijuana illegal

The USA’s war on drugs (including cannabis) had a disproportionate negative impact on certain groups, and some think good policy could address some of the harm caused by past enforcement of marijuana laws. 61% of those surveyed believe people who have been harmed by these laws should benefit from legalization.

Even President Joe Biden has recognised the harm caused. In 2022, when announcing a review into how cannabis has been scheduled (not legalizing it), President Biden said:

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs.”

When asked who cannabis legalization should benefit, the top three responses were people who use marijuana as medicine (85%), cannabis industry workers (73%) and people who use it for pleasure (63%). The bottom four responses were pharmaceutical companies, large corporations, the tobacco industry and alcohol companies.

The study’s survey involved 404 American adults in September 2023 – so it wasn’t a huge exercise, but may be the first survey of its kind. The full study can be viewed here.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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