It’s hard to believe there was a time not so long ago when the word “marijuana” was whispered rather than spoken freely and openly. Times have changed though, and an October 2018 Gallup poll revealed that 66% of Americans believe marijuana use should be legal.
For only the second time since Gallup began running this poll in 1969, more than half of Republicans said they support marijuana legalization (53% up from 51% in 2017). In addition, the majority of Americans age 55 and older (59% up from 50% in 2017) now believe marijuana should be legalized.
The data reveals that acceptance of marijuana has tipped the scales with the majority of Americans across the country believing it is now socially acceptable.
That’s good news for the marijuana industry, particularly since these results are mirrored in multiple studies. In fact, a September 2018 survey by Pew Research Center found that 62% of U.S. adults believe marijuana should be legal (up from 61% in 2017).
Bottom-line, acceptance of both medical and recreational marijuana among Americans has been growing rapidly in recent years and shows no signs of changing.
Growing Acceptance of the Business of Marijuana
Not only do consumers want access to marijuana products, but businesses and residents who understand that the marijuana industry benefits states and communities through job creation and taxes want it as well. In other words, consumers, investors, and regulators are all becoming more accepting of marijuana.
According to Vangst, the cannabis industry’s leading hiring platform, the number of cannabis job listings increased by 690% between January 2017 and August 2018, and salaries increased by more than 16%.
Furthermore, New Frontier Data reported in its Cannabis in the U.S. Economy – Jobs, Growth & Tax Revenue 2018 Edition that marijuana sales (both medical and adult-use) generated an estimated $1.6 billion in tax revenue across the supply chain in 2018. New Frontier Data projects that marijuana tax revenues could climb to $3.4 billion by 2025. It’s important to note that the 2025 projected tax revenue assumes only states where marijuana is currently legal.
With those numbers, it’s not surprising that Boston University’s 2018 Merino Survey of Mayors found that the majority of sitting U.S. mayors favored legalizing marijuana sales in their cities. However, there are stark differences between the views of Democratic mayors (62% support legalizing marijuana sales in their cities) and Republican mayors (only 33% support legalizing marijuana sales in their cities).
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. More than a dozen states have yet to legalize medical marijuana, and only 10 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.
Cannabiz Media has identified many barriers to marijuana accessibility that not only affect access but also affect the overall success of a state’s marijuana program. These barriers can vary from state to state. Some examples 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 Americans’ ability to access medical marijuana. However, the statistics show that the majority of Americans want marijuana to be accessible for medical and recreational use. Unfortunately, there is still a sizable gap between marijuana acceptance and acceptability in the United State.
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.
Originally published 5/10/17. Updated 1/31/19.
Susan Gunelius, Lead Analyst for Cannabiz Media and author of Marijuana Licensing Reference Guide: 2017 Edition, is also President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company offering, copywriting, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and strategic branding services. She spent the first half of her 25-year career directing marketing programs for AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more as well as small businesses around the world. Susan has written 11 marketing-related books, including the highly popular Content Marketing for Dummies, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing, Kick-ass Copywriting in 10 Easy Steps, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing, and she is a popular marketing and branding keynote speaker. She is also a Certified Career Coach and Founder and Editor in Chief of Women on Business, an award-winning blog for business women. Susan holds a B.S. in marketing and an M.B.A in management and strategy.