Public opinion on the legalization of cannabis in Canada vs America

Published Mar 18, 2019 10:04 a.m. ET
Canadian Press, John Locher

The United States seems to be maintaining their laws surrounding the legality of marijuana despite virtually all of its neighboring countries bringing in reform for both medical and recreational use. With Canada having just recently put into motion The Cannabis Act which legalized both possession and the growing of marijuana, many are now wondering when and if we will ever see legal weed in the US. The most significant influence over lawmakers in any region is it’s constituents beliefs on the subject. A quick look over the statistics on the public opinion about marijuana in the United States and Canada shows both similarities and differences which indicate a shift in views. These numbers appear to imply that cannabis may have a good shot at making an appearance in the US market in the near future.

Canadian views

According to one poll conducted by the Cannabis Council of Canada, one-in-six Canadians approve of the legalization of cannabis or approximately 63% of the population. Some of the most recent studies conducted between 2000 and 2018 show a relatively high acceptance rate overall.


Age - One way to break down the statistics of Canadians’ opinions on the legalization of marijuana is by age.

Millennials (1981-1996) - The youngest generation surveyed holds the highest support for cannabis legalization at 81%.

Gen X (1965-1980) - The second highest approval for legalization came from Gen-X at 63% in support of legal marijuana.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964) - 54% of baby boomers are in support of cannabis becoming legal in Canada.

Silent Generation (1928-1945) - The oldest group surveyed the lowest approval rating for the legalization of marijuana in Canada at only 21%.


Conservative- Conservative voters showed the least amount of support of marijuana legalization.

NDP & Liberal - Voters of the NDP or Liberals are overwhelmingly in support of legalization, approximately 30% more than those who voted conservative.

American views

According to the Pew Research Centre about six-in-ten Americans support marijuana legalization which represents approximately 62% of the population. When comparing the statistics gathered in 1969 to the present the most significant rise in agreeance happened between 2000 and now. In 2000 the number of people in America that supported legalization was 31% lower than it is today.



Age - One way to measure the average Americans view on cannabis is to separate the results by age.

Millennials (1981-1996) - Millennials hold the highest public opinion about marijuana in the United States with 74% in support of legalization.

Gen X (1965-1980) - Gen-Xers came in slightly lower with an average of 63% of them in support of legalization.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964) - Baby boomers seem to have an even split onboth sides of the issue with approximately 54% of this group currently supportive of cannabis legalization.

Silent Generation (1928-1945) - The eldest generation ranked lowest at only 19% in support of the legalization of marijuana.


The stats from Pew Research Center show that the results varied even further when broken down into the political parties that individuals choose to support.  

Democrats- 69% of Democrats feel that cannabis should be legal.

Republicans- Only 45% of Republicans agree that marijuana should be legalized.

Independents- 75% of Independents agree with cannabis legalization.  

When will weed be legal in the US?

Since Canada has legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational use, many Americans are asking the question “when will weed be legal in the US?” Well, we can’t say for sure exactly when that will happen, the research does show a consistent incline in approval ratings that are similar to those in Canada. Some more recent events like the recently rejected Superbowl commercial for medical cannabis by CBS show that there is still a ways to go in convincing both the American people and government that the legalization of cannabis comes with many benefits. America should be looking to Canada for guidance and assurance as we have already seen some of the benefits including a boost in economy and a brand-new market that creates jobs and opportunity for thousands of Canadian citizens. Regardless, the future of marijuana in the US is looking a little bit brighter every single day.



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