September 26, 2022 08:30 am ETEstimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Everyone knows that alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis are three of the most commonly used substances in the world. While it is nearly impossible to measure the exact extent to which those substances are consumed, a recent study interestingly found that more Americans are now smoking cannabis than tobacco. Considering all the controversy surrounding cannabis, it is quite a turn of events to see cannabis surpassing tobacco consumption.
All-Time High, All-Time Low
According to the latest Gallup poll, cannabis use has reached a record high and for the first time has surpassed smoking cigarettes. The report found that 16% of Americans reported smoking cannabis, which is a 12% increase from the previous year and “double the all-time low of 7 percent,” reports The Hill.
While cannabis consumption has increased, the poll found that tobacco use came in at 11%, which is not only less than cannabis consumption but is also a reduction from the 16% of the previous year. Additionally, 11% is “a far fall from a peak at 45 percent in the 1950s.” Considering what the poll found, it marks the highest percentage of cannabis use and the lowest percentage of cigarette consumption since Gallup started collecting information on cannabis (in 2013) and tobacco (in 1944).
Cannabis’ Influence on Society
While cannabis use is at an all-time high, the poll also found that American society is conflicted over whether cannabis legalization would have a positive or negative influence despite the fact that 68% believe cannabis should be legal. The poll found that while this is a record-high percentage of people in support of cannabis, it is the same percentage as last year’s polling.
Ignoring the number of people in support of cannabis legalization, Americans are almost evenly split in their views of whether cannabis would have a positive or negative influence. The poll found that 49% consider cannabis positive, while 50% voted negative. However, the poll also found that people were “slightly more positive” about the effect of cannabis on the people who use it, with 53% saying it will/has a positive influence on people who consume it.
The Cannabis Consumer’s Experience
The poll found that those who have consumed cannabis, at any point in time and for any frequency, were more likely to view cannabis as being positive for people and society, while those who have never tried cannabis are more likely to perceive it as negative. While this finding is not exactly surprising, it does go a long way in illustrating how one’s experience with the plant can shape the views on it.
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While a consensus has not yet been reached on where cannabis would be beneficial for people or society, there is still a consensus that cannabis is better than alcohol (and apparently tobacco when considering the increase in cannabis consumption and decrease in cigarette use). The number of people who have experience—even just one single instance of use—came in at 48%, which is a massive increase from the 4% when Gallup first asked about whether people have tried the substance.
Why Are People Choosing Cannabis Over Tobacco?
One may wonder why Americans would consume more cannabis when compared to tobacco, and some of the potential reasons are as follows. Firstly, when it comes to smoking, both can come with risks but cannabis is less damaging to the lungs than tobacco. Therefore, when deciding on a smoking vice, cannabis would be the obvious choice based on having less of an impact on the lungs.
Secondly, tobacco can only be consumed by smoking or chewing it, whereas cannabis can be consumed in various forms, including but not limited to edibles, oils, drinks, ointments, capsules, etc. Thirdly, all tobacco products have similar effects, while cannabis offers a wide variety of strains, each with its own respective effects, which can be selected by the consumer based on their personal needs. For example, there are strains that are best as a sleep aid, strains that are best for energy, strains that can suppress appetite for weight loss, etc.
Additionally, there are no medicinal benefits to gain from smoking tobacco, and many people end up addicted and unable to stop smoking cigarettes. Cannabis, on the other hand, has a huge variety of medicinal properties to offer the consumer, along with the plants’ notorious intoxicating effects, making it a fun recreational substance and a safer alternative to conventional recreational substances.
The last point worth mentioning is the ease of accessibility along with the cost differences between cannabis and tobacco products. Tobacco products are heavily taxed and can amount to a large sum of money despite the fact that they are easy to access once over the legal age limit. While cannabis can be costly and more difficult to legally access, states that allow cannabis consumers to grow their own plants make it much more affordable to consume the substance.
More and More Cannabis Legalization
For the first time in history, American smokers are preferring cannabis over tobacco but are also drastically decreasing overall tobacco consumption rates. When considering everything that cannabis has to offer the consumer as well as the risks of both, it makes sense that people are beginning to move toward cannabis instead of tobacco. The Hill explains that six states could vote to legalize cannabis in the November midterm elections and that they should pass, potentially increasing the current 19 states with legalized recreational cannabis to 25.
While the study does demonstrate that cannabis is increasingly gaining acceptance and preference, it is important to note that the Gallup poll only polled 1,013 American adults, meaning that a much larger study needs to be conducted in order to get an accurate indication of the 329 million Americans. Still, this finding is an excellent indication of the direction in which cannabis is heading.
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