It’s true. There’s an undeniable gender gap.
But before you get your panties all in a bunch – and we’re talking to both men and women here as we support equal opportunity panty wearing – we’ll start by saying the gender gap isn’t cavernous.
The fact that more women are against legalizing marijuana than men is intriguing though.
Especially given the fact that women, in general, tend to skew more liberal on a wide range of issues when compared to men.
The Most Current Stats on Support for Legalizing Marijuana
Back in 1969, 81% of Americans were against legalizing marijuana. So maybe there weren’t as many folks midnight toking in the 1960s as originally believed. Or they just weren’t talking about it.
Whatever the case, here in 2018, 62% of Americans are all for it. That’s up 1% from last year – but double the 31% of supporters back in 2000.
The majority of Millennials (74%), Gen Xers (63%) and Baby Boomers (54%) would like to see the leaf legalized. Meanwhile, those over the age of 70 show the least support. Even so, at 39%, they’re making some progress.
On the political front, 69% of Democrats favor it, as well as 75% of Independents who tilt toward the Democratic Party. But at 51% opposed, the Republicans have still not fully embraced legalization. Interestingly, Independents who bend toward the Republican Party are far more supportive (59%).
Even 65% of Republican Millennials are in favor of legalization. And yes, Republican Millennials are real.
So What Is the Deal with Women Against Legalizing Marijuana
Once again, it’s not a huge surge of women with knitted beanies and placards depicting the distinct dangers of reefer madness.
In fact, according to information from a political survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013, the gap is less than 8%.
Here’s how study went down:
Researchers evaluated the responses to six survey questions about marijuana. Two such questions were, ”Should marijuana be legal?” (duh) and, “Is marijuana a gateway drug?” They compiled the responses to create a “support for marijuana” scale, which ran from zero to 100. Men scored a 67 on the scale, while women scored a 61.
Even though the study is 5 years old, it drew the attention of Steven Greene, co-lead author of a paper on the study and professor of political science at North Carolina State University, and Laurel Elder, fellow co-lead author and a professor at Hartwick College.
Wondering what was up with the reverse gender gap, the two of them dug further into the study to determine the impact of three different things:
Parenthood, Religiosity and Consumption Habits
Moms get a bad rap for being too overprotective at times. So Elder and Greene thought this might be a factor.
“Being a parent is not a predictor of attitudes on the marijuana support scale,” they wrote. “When the demographics-only model is run without the parenthood variable 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.”
In other words, being a mom was not a contributing factor to not wanting to legalize marijuana.
So Elder and Greene tackled religiosity next. They determined religiosity by measuring how often survey respondents said they attended church and whether they identified as born-again Christians. When they ran a statistical analysis that accounted for religiosity, the gender gap shrank but didn’t disappear. This means religiosity does play a minor role in attitudes toward marijuana.
Finally, they took consumption into consideration. In the survey, 57% of men reported having used marijuana, compared to 45% of women. When they ran an analysis that accounted for consumption, the gap disappeared altogether.
So while familiarity may at times breed contempt, in the case of marijuana use, it lifts the stigma and fosters support.
What Is the Takeaway?
It may well be that a significant number of the women against legalizing marijuana simply have no experience with it.
But as marijuana use becomes more widespread and is no longer viewed as deviant behavior, that gender gap is likely to shrink.
At least, that’s the theory. So there’s that.
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