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News, Politics, Research

53% of Americans Find Open Consumption to Be Socially Acceptable

May 24, 2023 12:00 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
53% of Americans Find Open Consumption to Be Socially Acceptable

A recent CBS News/YouGov poll survey found that over half of Americans believe public use of cannabis is reasonable and can be allowed.

In the poll, which featured 1,582 U.S. adult respondents, 53% of the participants held nothing against doping in public, and 47% felt different. Opponents of open cannabis consumption were predominantly Republicans, seniors, conservatives, and religious folks.

Here are other exciting findings from the survey:

  • Most respondents, including those who never used marijuana, said using it doesn’t make anyone less of themselves, and 67% said they wouldn’t see their marijuana-using friends and family differently.
  • On having a cannabis business around their residence, 32% thought it’d make no difference, 37% said it wasn’t nice, and 31% welcomed the idea.
  • Among the supporters of neighborhood cannabis businesses, 81% think it would help grow the local economy, 85% believe it’ll make regulations easier, and 54% said it would grant them easy access to dispensaries.
  • Opponents of establishing cannabis businesses in residential areas said such practices could encourage usage among minors, 82% believed it would reduce the desirability of such neighborhoods, 80% feared the health concerns, and 72% referenced the federal anti-marijuana laws.


These stats reveal a more liberal public opinion about legal cannabis and the current widespread social tolerance in the United States and beyond.
Reduction in religious affiliation, a drop in punitiveness, and a shift in media framing may have all contributed to changing attitudes.

The Battle Against Public Use of Cannabis

Despite cannabis’ increasing acceptance, public use—particularly smoking or vaping—is still an offense throughout the U.S., even in recreational marijuana states. The rules vary across states, but generally, cannabis smoking restrictions are similar to tobacco and vaping.

For instance, smoking weed in prohibited public areas in California attracts between $100 and $250 fines. Areas within 1,000 feet of daycares and places where children meet, like schools, hold graver penalties.

The regulations allow outdoor smoking but in users’ private property or designated marijuana lounges. Marijuana consumption is barred in public places, such as restaurants or bars, parks, on the beach, or other areas accessible to the general public. Defaulters are fined.

Smoking in residential areas, state parks, and national parks is illegal. It is also illegal to smoke, use any cannabis product or have an exposed cannabis product while driving a car, flying, or in a boat. 

Proponents of Public Smoking

Although cannabis lounges are gradually springing up across the states, many cannabis users live in areas yet to have licensed recreational facilities. This restricts most legal users to using weed only in their homes.

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For instance, disappointingly, stoners can’t get a buzz while at the beach with a loved one. It’s more worrisome for medical users who want to whip out a joint to administer the legally prescribed doses for their health condition. This leaves millions of medical cannabis patients unable to consume their legal marijuana doses until they get home.

Although tinctures and edibles are more discreet options, inhalation (smoking or vaping) delivers the compounds into the body faster and gives a more potent effect. In fact, medical cannabis experts prescribe marijuana inhalation (over other dosage methods) for severe conditions like epilepsy, chronic pain, and insomnia.

High Hopes as Legal Cannabis Sweeps Across More States

In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first U.S. states to approve the sale and recreational use of cannabis, a feat they achieved through the ballot measure.

At the end of last month, only a decade after the first two legal states, twenty-one states and D.C. have legalized adult marijuana use. Thirty-eight states, three territories, and D.C. permit medical cannabis, with Kentucky being the newest entrant on the list after passing the legislature in March this year.

The legalized cannabis laws have also swept through Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

With this wide spreading acceptance of the once-stigmatized cannabis, about three-quarters (74%) of the American population currently reside in jurisdictions with legal medical cannabis programs. 

Public cannabis use supporters find no sense in the government’s war against weed since alcohol can be potentially more harmful. More and more jurisdictions understand this fact and, in turn, reduce their marijuana-related sentencing or expunging old weed-related convictions

In a related development, the campaign against marijuana-related sentencing got a booster when President Joe Biden, on Oct. 7, 2022, promised to release everyone sentenced for simple marijuana possession by the federal courts.

With the relaxing anger for weed and its users, it’s expected that open consumption of weed will become more socially acceptable in the nearest future.

Post Your Comments

Miriam says:

May 26, 2023 at 12:56 am

You are almost 100% accurate with the exception of Seniors. I am a Senior Citizen and I would LOVE to “open smoke” in public. I practically do regardless of the laws because I honestly did not know that I couldn’t. I loved your article.

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