WASHINGTON, D.C. — The percentage of U.S. adults who say they have tried marijuana has ticked up to 49%, the highest Gallup has measured to date. More than 50 years ago, just 4% said they had tried the drug, but that percentage surpassed 20% in 1977, 30% in 1985 and 40% in 2015.
A much smaller proportion of U.S. adults, 12%, say they “smoke marijuana.” The percentage of current marijuana smokers has been steady in recent years, varying between 11% and 13% after increasing from the 7% Gallup initially measured in 2013.
The results are based on Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 6-21.
Generational patterns explain the increase in marijuana experimentation over the last five decades. The oldest Americans living today, those born before 1945 whom Gallup calls “traditionalists,” are much less likely than those in other birth cohorts to have tried marijuana, with just 19% saying they have done so. That compares with about half of millennials (51%), Generation Xers (49%) and baby boomers (50%).
These generational figures are based on combined data from the 2015-2021 Consumption Habits surveys. Gallup does not yet have sufficient data to provide reliable estimates for Generation Z, the oldest of whom are 24 years old now.
Comparing the most recent generational figures with data from the 1980s and 1990s finds little change in the rate of marijuana experimentation among baby boomers and Gen X. Combined data from the 1985 and 1999 Gallup polls shows that 44% of members of Gen X and 50% of baby boomers had tried marijuana as of then.
During those years, a lower proportion of traditionalists than today had tried marijuana (10%). The increase in that group today compared with the 1980s and 1990s probably reflects the dying off of many of the oldest members of that generation, who were much less likely than younger traditionalists to have tried marijuana.