Americans Now Favor Legal Cannabis Over Legal Tobacco

59 percent believe marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use

More Americans now favor legal cannabis than legal tobacco, surveys show, signaling a sharp societal shift from an era when cigarette-smoking was legal pretty much everywhere and pot-smoking was legal absolutely nowhere. 

Fifty-seven percent of American adults would support “a policy prohibiting the sale of all tobacco products,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in a research brief last month.  

A slightly larger majority, 59 percent, believe marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use, according to a Pew Research survey conducted in October. Another 30 percent approve of cannabis for medical use alone. Only 10 percent of the American public believes marijuana should not be legal at all. 

The findings reflect growing public consensus that cannabis is safer than tobacco, which the CDC considers the leading cause of preventable death. Studies have found marijuana less addictive than cigarettes and marijuana smoke less harmful to the lungs, although doctors caution that cannabis still poses many potential health hazards.  

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