Eight in 10 Americans think marijuana should be legal for medical use, and nearly half - 49 percent - approve of smoking pot for recreation purposes, according to a new poll designed to gauge the nation's opinions about cannabis.
Commissioned by Yahoo! News and performed by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, the survey asked a representative sample of 1,122 adults nationwide via cellphones and land-line phones. It posed a series of questions delving into people's feelings and perceptions about a plant that has increasingly gained public acceptance, with voters in a growing number of states approving various marijuana-use laws.
The drug remains classified as a controlled substance under federal law.
While the Americans surveyed mostly supported use of medical marijuana, 69 percent said they didn't think pregnant women should partake.
Most respondents, 70 percent, said they believe marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco cigarettes. And 67 percent said taking opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin for controlling chronic pain was a larger health risk than relying on medical marijuana.
Only 26 percent of Americans said they had never tried marijuana while 52 percent said they have used it at least once. More than half said they believe marijuana is socially acceptable, and addiction did not rank very high on most respondents lists of concerns about weed use.
The biggest worry, expressed by 30 percent of those surveyed, was that marijuana is illegal. Even among those who had never used the drug, only 10 percent said they thought sinsemilla was addictive; 19 percent said they thought using the drug could lead to use of other illegal drugs.
Despite a growing scientific consensus that marijuana is is particularly risky for kids and young adults whose brains don't finish growing until they are in their 20s, 47 percent said doctors should be able to prescribe medical marijuana to children.
In February, the Trump administration signaled it would take a tougher stance toward enforcing federal drug laws than the Obama administration did, leading some to worry that states such as Denver, and now California, which have legalized pot for recreational use, will soon face a backlash. Doing so would seem to be an unpopular move, according to the poll results which show than only 20 percent of Americans thought the Trump administration's enforcement actions should be tougher than the Obama administration's for medical marijuana and 30 percent for recreational use. Everyone else said the feds should handle the issue the same as the Obama administration did or even more liberally.