Some 30% of American states have legalized recreational marijuana use, with New York becoming the 15th to do so this March. (It has also been legalized in Washington D.C.) This month, the House of Representatives approved a bill to protect banks that service marijuana businesses in states where it is legal from being penalized by federal regulators, with more than 100 Republicans joining the Democratic bloc in supporting the bill. (Here are the 15 states where marijuana is legal.)
These legislative actions at the state and federal level mirror changes in public opinion. According to a 2020 Gallup poll, 68% of Americans support legalizing marijuana. That figure has risen steadily, and particularly in the last two decades, since Gallup first started polling on the issue more than 50 years ago.
Of course, many people have long been smoking marijuana anyway, regardless of its legal status. There’s even a whole film genre about smoking pot — the stoner movie — that includes such classics such as “Slackers” and “Pineapple Express.” (These are 50 movies critics hate but audiences love.)
What states smoke the most pot, legal or not? 24/7 Wall St. has ranked all 50 based on marijuana use. Not surprisingly, people in the most politically liberal states smoke more than those in conservative ones. The No. 1 state for pot use is Vermont, home to Bernie Sanders, one of the most prominent progressives in the country. While pot is already legal in the state, his website still proclaims: “We will legalize marijuana and vacate and expunge past marijuana convictions.”
It’s also noteworthy that the top marijuana-using states — including Oregon, Colorado, Maine, and Washington, as well as Vermont — are all fairly rural.
To identify the states where the most people smoke marijuana, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state-level substance use data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2018 – 2019 estimates, which is conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Marijuana use figures are adjusted to population per 10,000, with total 2019 population numbers coming from the United States Census Bureau American Community Survey.