January 7th, 2014
08:01 PM ET
7 months ago

CNN Poll: Americans say marijuana is less dangerous than booze or tobacco

Washington (CNN) - Americans appear to view marijuana in a class by itself.

According to a new national poll, marijuana is not as wicked as other illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine, and much less dangerous than legal substances like alcohol and tobacco.

That's one reason why a CNN/ORC International survey indicates that support for legalizing marijuana is soaring, and why that same support does not extend to hard drugs.

A CNN/ORC poll released Monday showed that 55% of all Americans think that the use of marijuana should be legal - a solid majority and more than triple the 16% who said the same thing a quarter century ago. But according to numbers released Tuesday, the percentage is nowhere near as high as the 81% who say alcohol should remain legal or the 71% who believe that tobacco use is OK.

Yet, despite the high numbers who think alcohol and tobacco should be legal, nearly three-quarters say that booze is more dangerous than pot, and more than six in 10 think the same thing about cigarettes and cigars.

The numbers on alcohol and marijuana is a major switch from four decades ago, when Americans were split on which was more dangerous to use.

"The logical conclusion: Many Americans believe that if more dangerous substances like alcohol and tobacco are legal, marijuana should be, too," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

What about harder drugs like cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines, better known as crystal meth?

According to the poll, Americans almost unanimously agree that those substances should remain illegal. Only 4% say that cocaine and heroin should be legalized; only 3% feel that way about methamphetamines.

There is a notable moral dimension to how Americans feel about harder drugs that does not apply to marijuana or alcohol: Roughly eight in 10 questioned in the poll say that using heroin or cocaine is morally wrong. As CNN reported on Monday, only 35% feel that way about marijuana, about half the number who felt that way in the 1980s. And only 16% say that drinking alcohol is morally wrong, down from 38% a quarter century ago.

"Once again, opinions on marijuana seem to represent a halfway point between generally accepted substances like alcohol and widely reviled substances like cocaine and heroin," Holland said.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from January 3 to 5, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. Jack

    I've seen what Opiates and Xanax do to people and their withdrawal from them. Marijuana has no physical withdrawal.

    January 8, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. smith

    @Malory- Name a strain that doesn`t cause laziness, weakness, or slow motor functions? All strains contain THC which causes these symptoms. The higher THC the better buzz and state of euphoria. Any type of smoke inhaltion causes weakness and shortness of breath.

    January 8, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Joe

    I just want to say that Malory and vinca, your comments make you look like idiots.

    January 8, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. Malory Archer

    smith

    @Malory- Name a strain that doesn`t cause laziness, weakness, or slow motor functions? All strains contain THC which causes these symptoms. The higher THC the better buzz and state of euphoria. Any type of smoke inhaltion causes weakness and shortness of breath.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I don't know the names because I'm not really a user. However, I do recall reading the labels on the various types of cannibis at shops in Amesterdam many years ago, and they specifically described the type of "high" the consumer would experience. If I'm not mistaken, sativas tend to be more of the sleepy time variety, and the indicas are more of the wide awake variety (of vice versa). If you don't believe me, fly to Amsterdam and take a look for yourself.

    January 8, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. Malory Archer

    Joe

    I just want to say that Malory and vinca, your comments make you look like idiots.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What comments sweetie? Got anything besides ad hominem attacks?

    January 8, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. I'm not tellin!

    To those who are against pot, I want you to look at it from a different point of view. Everyone thinks of the marijuana that gets you high, but do some research on HEMP! It can be used to make rope, paper, soap, food and so much more. And another thing you might like is that it can't be smoked. Well it can but it will be nasty and it won't get you high. If you don't legalize the fun pot, at least legalize hemp... However both sounds like a pretty good idea :) also, check out agenda 21. YouTube "agenda 21 for dummies". It will likely change your views on how much the government cares about us and our opinions. Why should a few thousand people determine the fate of... What is it now, 7 billion people? It's depressing to see how low humanity has fallen. I don't think any god is going to be able to get us out of this hole.

    January 8, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  7. Get off my lawn

    The prohibitionists Will cry what about the children! Yet it is a proven fact that teenagers have more access to cannabis then legal and regulated alcohol and tobacco. Just ask any teenager! Also tobacco use amongst teenagers is at the lowest rate in history. We did not accomplish this by raiding tobacco fields or placing anyone in a cage for smoking cigars. It's amazing what a little education can do. If we really care about our children it's time to legalize regulate and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older, using some of the money to properly educate people on the harms of cannabis use. Not using lies and propaganda a.k.a. reefer madness!

    January 8, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    More dangerous than nicotine? Bull. Weed is hella addictive, damages the lungs and laziness. I smoke BTW – tons of Kush and Cookies and Sour. At least I am honest with myself and my addiction.

    January 8, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
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