Americans Don’t Care if Presidential Candidates Used Marijuana


Marijuana use isn’t a political problem for presidential contenders, most Americans say in a new survey.

Seventy-four percent of U.S. adults think candidates’ past cannabis use doesn’t matter, Pew Research Center found in the poll released on Wednesday.

Six percent say past marijuana use by a candidate actually makes them more likely to earn support, while 20 percent say they’re less likely to vote for presidential contenders who toked. Because the respondents who said past use made them less likely to vote for a candidate outnumbered those who said it made them more likely to support, Pew called it a “trait that is a liability” overall.

But past marijuana use is less of a political liability than being gay, Mormon, Muslim or atheist, the survey found. And having had an extramarital affair or personal financial troubles are also more of a problem in voters’ minds than consuming cannabis is.


The overall lack of concern over candidates’ past marijuana use is fairly consistent across party lines, with 74 percent of those who are or lean Republican saying it doesn’t matter and 78 percent of those who are or lean Democrat agreeing.


Even among religious Americans, the vast majority say a candidate’s past cannabis use would make no difference. That’s especially true of white Catholics, 85 percent of whom say they don’t care about possible a president’s marijuana history.


The number of Americans who don’t care whether their president formerly used marijuana is growing. Pew asked the same question in 2014, finding that 70 percent said it didn’t make a difference. In a 2011 survey the number was 69 percent.

The new poll, based on telephone interviews of a national sample of 2,009 adults conducted January 7-14, only asked about past cannabis use and did not inquire how Americans would feel about electing a current marijuana user as president.

The last three presidents have admitted to using marijuana, and several current candidates for the job have acknowledged past cannabis consumption as well. To find out which 2016 contenders are on record as former tokers, check out’s comprehensive guide to to the candidates.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)


  1. Rod is on the Gas on

    Cannabis use inside the White House? By friends and family?

    Nobody cares what candidates say prior to their swearing-in. It’s a circus meant to embarrass and discourage voters from actually thinking about their vote.

    After the new president takes over, I’ll call it Hillary for no particular reason, we ought to watch and see the real person. I’m yearning for Bill and Hillary to be taking their morning coffee on the east veranda while photographers catch Her in an honest moment of sharing a little-bittie doobie.

    OK, now let’s talk about cannabis. All the lies and posturing melt away to the domain of the money grubbers. Profits from cannabis? Who are these animals? Civil society operates quite humanely when cannabis is involved as a means of open communication. Politicians should take note…….cannabis society is the peaceful part of American life.

  2. I don’t mind if my president uses marijuana. Now if we could get just get a president that would let the rest of us use marijuana.

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