Most Americans approve of Biden's pardons of federal convictions for marijuana possession

Linley SandersData Journalist
October 13, 2022, 1:32 PM GMT+0

Last week, President Joe Biden announced that he would pardon all Americans who have been convicted of marijuana possession under federal law.

The decision is popular: In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, Americans approve of Biden's federal pardons by a margin of 62% to 25%. More than three-quarters of Democrats (78%) approve, and most Independents (60%) also approve. Even Americans who never have tried marijuana are more likely to approve (48%) than not (33%) of Biden's decision. Republicans are split (45% approve; 47% disapprove).

Clearing the records of people who have been convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses also earns high marks among Americans. More than three in five U.S. adults (63%) support it, including 49% of Republicans and 49% of Americans who have never tried marijuana themselves.

Pardoning past offenses and clearing records are popular, but legalizing marijuana use is slightly more divisive. A smaller majority overall is in favor (55%), with Democrats (66%) and Independents (56%) still supporting legalization. In this case, Republicans are more likely to be opposed (47% say marijuana should not be legalized, compared to 41% who say it should be). People who have never tried marijuana are opposed by 45% to 33%.

Half of American adults (50%) say that they have tried marijuana, though just under half (46%) of people who have ever used say they have done so in the past year (meaning that 23% of the adult population say they have used marijuana in the last year). Younger adults are less likely than older adults to have ever used marijuana, though the younger people who say that they have ever used also say their use is more current. A majority (59%) of 18- to 29-year-olds who have tried pot say they have used it in the last year, compared to only 26% of Americans 65 and older. There is no party divide in marijuana use: 51% of Democrats have ever tried it, compared to 50% of Independents and 49% of Republicans.

— Carl Bialik and Taylor Orth contributed to this article

Polling by the Economist/YouGov was conducted on October 8 - 11, 2022 among 1,500 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this Economist/YouGov poll.

Image: Getty (Evan Vucci - Pool)