There’s a peculiar gender gap when it comes to support for marijuana legalization—where women, a demographic that generally skews more liberal on a wide range of issues compared to men, are somewhat less likely to embrace cannabis reform.
Researchers at North Carolina State University and Hartwick College wanted to know why. And in a recent study published in the journal Social Science Quarterly, they offered some plausible explanations.
Using data from a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, which prompted respondents with an extensive set of questions related to marijuana, the researchers tested several hypotheses about why women are less inclined to support legalization than men (67-61 percent, on a weighted scale).
Social Science Quarterly
Was it parenthood, religiosity or consumption habits that explained the trend, as the researchers speculated? Well, the results revealed a mixed bag of potential factors.
One thing that was, perhaps surprisingly, not a contributing factor was the parenthood element. While women’s role as mothers might help explain why they lean a bit more left on issues like gun control, it didn’t explain the marijuana divide.
“Being a parent is not a predictor of attitudes on the marijuana support scale,” the study authors wrote. “When the demographics-only model is run without the parenthood variable (not shown) and then with the parenthood variable added, the coefficient for gender does not change at all, indicating that being a parent does not account for any of the gender gap.”
The fact that women are more likely to identify as born-again Christians and report attending church services more often does seem to be a factor, though. Women’s “greater religiosity substantially explains the gender gap in marijuana policy,” though in order to “fully explain the gap, further analysis is needed.”
Lastly, the research investigated how cannabis consumption habits—and comfortability around marijuana—influenced their support for reform. That factor seemed to be the most influential, as women were less likely to report ever having used cannabis (55-42 percent) or feeling comfortable around the plant (55-42 percent).
“Women are less likely to have ever used marijuana (or report ever using marijuana), and once this is taken into account the gap disappears.”
In the end, the researchers predicted that the gap in support for marijuana reform will continue to narrow.
“Though it is challenging to accurately predict the future contours of the gender gap in marijuana, we do think our findings here are instructive,” the team wrote. “As marijuana use becomes more common and seen as less risky or deviant behavior, and as marijuana use is framed less as a moral issue (which will presumably be the case as it grows more common and legalized), there is reason to expect the gender gap to shrink.”
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Why Women Support Legal Marijuana Less Than Men, According To A New Study
Cannabis policy reform seems to be sweeping across the United States, as Alaska and Oregon have recently joined Colorado and Washington as states in which voters approved measures to legalize the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana. There are also efforts mobilizing in many other states to place legalization initiatives on the 2016 ballot. While all of this is happening, many people have been left questioning whether legalization will encourage marijuana use, especially in young Americans.
According to the 2014 Harvard Public Opinion Project, legalization does not encourage marijuana use. Nearly nine out of ten participants (88%) who have not used marijuana recently responded that they are not likely to change behavior if it is legalized. This means that legalization is not a driving factor in a young American’s decision to use marijuana.
The Harvard Public Opinion Project has been collecting information and tracking participants’ views toward politics and public service since the year 2000. All participants are between the ages of 18 and 29. Inspired by the recent politics, the project’s 14th year contained more questions about marijuana than ever before.
Only 10 percent of the survey participants reported having used cannabis recently. The wording categorized recently as “within the last few months.” Of those respondents, 88 percent support legalizing marijuana on a federal level. Even 37 percent of participants who have not used cannabis recently still support legalization. A sizable amount of respondents who have not used marijuana recently, 23 percent, were still on the fence or unsure about legalization.
Outside of this Harvard study, Gallup has acquired similar information about marijuana legalization support from voters of all ages. The graph below shows the evolution of marijuana legalization support from 1969, when support was only at about 12% through 2013, where support is up to 58%.
According to the Harvard study, the percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 who support legalizing marijuana is lower than the national average. When each participant of the 2014 Harvard Public Opinion Project was asked whether “they support, oppose or are unsure about legalizing marijuana,” regardless of preference to use, 44 percent responded in support, which is 14 percent less than the national average according to the Gallup poll. Of that, 23 percent reported strongly supporting legalization. The percent of participants on the fence about marijuana legalization, regardless of preference to use, 22 percent reported being unsure or on the fence.
Although some of America’s youth may not yet have formed an opinion about legalization, one thing they are sure about is that whether or not the plant is legalized will not make a difference in the choice to use it.