Two in three Americans support Biden’s planned cannabis reforms

New USA Today/Ipsos poll shows most view decriminalization as a way to correct racial injustice in our judicial system

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • James Diamond Senior Research Manager, Public Affairs
Get in touch

Washington, DC, October 11, 2022 -- Two-thirds of American adults support pardoning all prior federal convictions for marijuana possession, and their governor doing the same thing at the state level, according to a new USA Today/Ipsos poll taken in the days immediately following President Biden’s announcement. Another component of Biden’s announcement – changing how federal law classifies marijuana so it is no longer a Schedule I drug – garners slightly higher support among nearly three-quarters of the adult population.


The survey also finds that:

  • By a nearly two-to-one margin, Americans view decriminalizing cannabis as an important step in correcting past racial justices in our judicial system rather than something that would lead to more crime, drug trafficking, and underage use (62% vs. 33%, respectively). Majorities of Americans in all age groups feel this way, though support is higher among those under 50.
  • The biggest driver of differences in opinion around Biden’s announcement and the broader policy implications is one’s political affiliation. Democrats and independents alike strongly support elements of Biden’s announcement, as well as releasing all individuals in state or federal jail who are serving time for cannabis possession, while most Republicans oppose. More than three in five Republicans also feel that decriminalizing cannabis would lead to more crime, drug trafficking, and underage use.
  • The change in policy is not only popular with most Americans, but news also traveled fast. This poll, taken in days immediately following, shows that 72% have at least heard about the announcement. Nearly half (45%) say they have seen, heard, or read at least a little about it. Fewer Americans under 50 say they have heard a little or a lot about the announcement than those 50 and older.

About the Study

This USA Today/Ipsos study was conducted October 7-9, 2022, by Ipsos using our KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,028 general population adults age 18 or older.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult U.S. population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The study was conducted in English. The data for the total sample were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, and household income. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2021 March Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS).

  • Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other, Non-Hispanic, Hispanic, 2+ Races, Non-Hispanic)
  • Education (Less than High School, High School, Some College, Bachelor or higher)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.09. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

The margin of sampling error at the 95% confidence level is plus or minus 6.0 percentage points for Republicans, plus or minus 5.7 percentage points for Democrats, and plus or minus 5.8 percentage points for independents. The design effect is 1.06 for Republicans, 1.09 for Democrats, and 1.09 for independents.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Mallory Newall

Vice President, US

Public Affairs

+1 202 374 2613

[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is one of the largest market research and polling companies globally, operating in 90 markets and employing over 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. Our 75 solutions are based on primary data from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques.

Our tagline "Game Changers" sums up our ambition to help our 5,000 customers move confidently through a rapidly changing world.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has been listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and Mid-60 indices and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • James Diamond Senior Research Manager, Public Affairs