The number of adults in the United States who say they currently smoke marijuana has nearly doubled in the last three years, according to a new Gallup poll.
That increase— from 7% in 2013 to 13% this year—speaks to America's increasingly comfortable relationship with marijuana, and the rapid pace at which legalization efforts have taken weed from an illegal black market to a regulated industry.
Interestingly, while the number of adults who say they smoke weed has seen a major increase, the number who admit to simply having tried marijuana at some point has gone up only slightly in the same period of time—from 38% in 2013 to 43% in 2016.
In other words, while the overall number of people who have smoked weed at some point in their lives has continued to rise at a steady, but fairly unremarkable pace over the past few years, the number of people who say they do smoke weed has gone (comparatively) through the roof. So, what gives?
The answer may be inextricably tied to the states which have already legalized grass for recreational use. As Gallup notes:
Residents in the West — home of all four states that have legalized recreational marijuana use — are significantly more likely to say they smoke marijuana than those in other parts of the country.
Regardless of whether recreational marijuana is legal in the particular state, the overall regional effect may be one of increasing tolerance and openness when it comes to weed.
But geography is only one of the factors at play here. Age, income, and even faith appear to play roles, as well.
According to Gallup's data, respondents under the age of 30 were significantly more likely to say they currently smoke marijuana (19%) with that number decreasing with age. Respondents who claimed to earn $30,000 or less per year also said they smoked weed at a higher rate (14%) than those earning between $30,000-$75,000, and $75,000 and up (9%, respectively), although all three income brackets appear to have roughly the same number of people who've toked up at least once in their life.
Perhaps most interesting is the apparent relationship between religiosity and smoking weed: Respondents who said they rarely or never attend religious service were twice as likely (14%) to say they smoke up as those who attend services "nearly weekly/monthly" (7%) and a full seven times more likely to say so than those who attend weekly (2%).
All this comes as eight states prepare to vote on recreational and medicinal marijuana initiatives this November. And while the observed increase in people who say they smoke weed seems to be a good indicator that legalization efforts are gaining ground across the country, it's still not a sure thing everywhere.
Nevertheless, the trend seems unmistakable: More and more people say they're smoking weed, and more and more states seem prepared to vote on the issue.