Marist Poll Survey Looks at Marijuana's Impact on the American Family

A new study on marijuana use and attitudes toward legalization was released earlier this week — just in time for 4/20. During the first week of March, the Marist Poll conducted the Weed & the American Family survey, funded by Yahoo News and focusing on the impact of marijuana use on relationships and the family.

The survey found that more than half of the adults in America have tried marijuana at least once in their lives. Nearly 55 million people in this country currently use marijuana; 35 million consume monthly, 20 million consume yearly, and 78 million have tried it but aren't using it right now. That adds up to 22 percent of Americans using marijuana, and 63 percent of those using marijuana regularly. Of the respondents who are users, 54 percent are parents and 30 percent are parents with children younger than 18.

For most users, it's a social activity; 88 percent of the respondents say they consume with their close friends. The survey also determined that there are almost as many marijuana users in the U.S. as there are cigarette smokers.

Seventy percent of those who've tried marijuana support recreational legalization, the study reports; non-users are split on whether to legalize the drug, with 49 percent supporting and 47 percent opposing. Overall, about 60 percent of the respondents support recreational legalization.

That percentage is close to what other studies have found. Last year, Pew Research reported that 57 percent of Americans favor recreational legalization. That was before seven more states legalized the drug in November; today, marijuana is legal in some form in 29 states. (West Virginia's legislature approved MMJ on April 19.)

The Marist Poll also asked whether respondents support legalizing medical marijuana, and that number is higher: a whopping 83 percent in favor.

In a section focusing on family and lifestyle, parents express concern about their children using marijuana, but only a fifth of those surveyed place marijuana as the top concern. The leading worry for most parents is kids smoking cigarettes, followed by kids smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and having sex. Parents who have never tried marijuana, however, fear marijuana above all other risky behaviors.

While most parents want to keep marijuana away from their children, 56 percent of respondents say marijuana use is socially acceptable. They also believe marijuana is less dangerous than other substances: 76 percent consider it less risky than tobacco, 70 percent less risky than alcohol, and 67 percent less risky than opiates.

Of the respondents who use marijuana, 95 percent have told their spouses and close friends about their own marijuana consumption, and 72 percent have told their parents. Out of the parents who have smoked marijuana, 54 percent say they have talked with their children about their own consumption habits; 73 percent of younger users say they have not used it in front of their parents...much less shared it with them.