It’s hard to believe there was a time not so long ago when the word “marijuana” was whispered rather than spoken about freely and openly. Times have changed though, and a new survey from Yahoo News and the Marist Institute for Public Opinion of Marist College, Weed & The American Family, reveals that acceptance of marijuana has tipped the scales with more than half of Americans (56%) believing it is now socially acceptable.
That’s good news for the marijuana industry. Certainly, voters have been showing the changing tides of marijuana acceptance at the polls in recent years. The Yahoo News and Marist Poll survey results found that 83% of Americans overall support legalization of medical marijuana, and 49% of Americans support legalization of recreational marijuana.
As you would expect, these numbers are higher for the 52% of Americans age 18 or older who have tried marijuana at some point in their lives. The numbers are also higher among younger Americans. For example, 88% of Millenials support legalization of medical marijuana.
Growing Acceptance of the Business of Marijuana
The Yahoo News and Marist Poll survey also gauged Americans’ feelings about the marijuana industry. If marijuana was legalized in the United States, 29% of Americans would be interested in investing in a marijuana business. Interestingly, nearly 10% of the people who indicated they would be interested in investing in the industry also said they have never tried marijuana before.
Another particularly interesting finding from the survey is related to banking. At a time when it’s still very difficult for marijuana businesses to find banks that will work with them, 52% of Americans approve of their banks investing in marijuana farms or businesses. Again, this is greatly affected by a person’s age. For example, 66% of Millennials approve while only 24% of members of the Silent-Greatest Generation approve.
Making it even more clear just how far marijuana has come on its road to acceptance is how many Americans approve of their retirement funds having investments in marijuana farms and businesses. Overall, 51% of American adults approve. Again, this approval percentage is higher for younger Americans (61% for Millennials and 63% for Gen Xers) than older Americans (48% for Baby Boomers and 26% for the Silent-Greatest Generation members).
Acceptance Does Not Always Equal Accessibility
Despite what the data shows in terms of the growth in marijuana acceptance in the United States, accessibility to purchase marijuana still has a long way to go. Dozens of states have yet to legalize medical marijuana, and only eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. In addition, rules and regulations limit accessibility in states where medical and/or recreational marijuana have been legalized.
As explained in Cannabiz Media’s Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, there are many barriers to accessibility, and these barriers vary from state to state. Some example obstacles to medical marijuana accessibility include:
- Required recommendations from an approved and registered doctor
- Patient registration fees
- Reciprocity rules
- Limited covered conditions
- Restrictions on dispensary numbers and locations
- Local rules limiting or banning marijuana businesses
- License structure requirements
- Product forms available
Each of the above obstacles limits the ability of Americans’ to access medical marijuana. However, the Yahoo News and Marist Poll survey found the majority of Americans believe marijuana is socially acceptable, support legalization of medical marijuana, and believe marijuana is less dangerous than tobacco (76%), alcohol (70%), or opiates (67%).
When you consider how the tides have changed for the marijuana industry in terms of public opinion, it’s not a stretch to assume Americans will eventually demand that many of these obstacles be removed to provide greater accessibility. It should just be a matter of time at this point.
Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.