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Week in Review: New Poll Reveals Overwhelming Support for Cannabis Legalization

PHOTO Esteban López

Current Events

Week in Review: New Poll Reveals Overwhelming Support for Cannabis Legalization

ICYMI: Catch up on the week’s latest news from across the cannabis spectrum.

In this week’s cannabis news round-up, a new Pew Research poll reveals overwhelming support for cannabis legalization; Arizona’s cannabis sales hit $1.4 billion in 2023 for the third consecutive year; and San Francisco’s iconic 4/20 cannabis festival on Hippie Hill canceled due to sponsorship shortfall.

support for cannabis legalization
Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

New Poll Reveals Overwhelming Support for Cannabis Legalization

recent Pew Research Center poll unveiled overwhelming support for cannabis legalization among Americans, with nearly 90% advocating for either medical or adult use. The findings indicate that 57% of respondents back both medical and adult use, while 32% favor exclusively medical use, resulting in an overall net legalization sentiment of 88%. Only 11% expressed opposition to any form of legalization.

The survey revealed nuanced perspectives on the potential impacts of cannabis legalization. A majority of respondents (52%) viewed adult-use legalization as beneficial for local economies, while 42% believed it would enhance fairness in the criminal justice system. 42% rejected the notion that cannabis legalization serves as a gateway to harder drugs, with 44% expressing the belief that it would have no significant impact on community safety.

Political partisan differences emerged regarding the perceived outcomes of legalization. Republicans and Republican-leaning independents exhibited more skepticism, with only 41% foreseeing economic gains and 27% expecting improvements in the criminal justice system. In contrast, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents were more inclined to view adult-use legalization positively, with 64% foreseeing economic benefits and 58% anticipating increased fairness in the criminal justice system. 

Republicans expressed greater concerns about the potential downsides of broad cannabis legalization, with 42% fearing an uptick in other drug usage and 48% believing it would compromise community safety. These figures contrast starkly with Democrats, among whom only 17% anticipated increased drug use and 21% foresaw decreased community safety as a result of legalization.

PHOTO Tomasz Zajda

Arizona Cannabis Sales Hit $1.4 Billion in 2023

Arizona’s cannabis market continued its robust performance in 2023, exceeding $1.4 billion in total sales for the third consecutive year. Notably, adult-use sales dominated the market, overshadowing medical sales by a significant margin, reflecting the evolving dynamics since the passage of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, Prop 207,  in 2020.

Adult-use sales in 2023 reached approximately $1.1 billion, while medical sales contributed $348 million, a combined sales total of $1.43 billion. Adult-use sales accounted for over 76% of the total, a notable increase from the previous year’s 70%. This growth trend underscores the maturation of the adult-use market, which represented only 45% of total sales in its inaugural year of legalization in 2021.

Since the commencement of adult-use sales in January 2021, they have totaled $2.8 billion, surpassing the medical market’s earnings of $1.65 billion during the same period.

The medical marijuana market experienced a sharp decline, plummeting below $40 million in July 2022 and continuing to decline steadily after that. Adult-use sales have shown fluctuations, reaching a peak of $100 million in March 2023 but experiencing a slight dip to $76.8 million in January 2024, the lowest since February 2022.

Revenue from cannabis sales taxes has contributed substantially to the state’s coffers. In January alone, medical sales generated $1.8 million in sales tax revenue, while adult-use sales yielded nearly $12.3 million in excise tax and an additional $6 million in state sales tax. Since January 2021, adult-use sales have contributed over $451 million in excise taxes.

A portion of the excise tax revenue will be directed into various sectors, including community colleges, public safety, highway funds and justice reinvestment programs to support communities disproportionately affected by marijuana criminalization.

Despite the strong performance in adult-use sales, the Arizona Department of Health Services reported a continuous decline in medical marijuana program participation, with qualifying patient numbers decreasing monthly. As of February, the number of qualifying patient cardholders stood at 111,168, a significant decrease from the program’s peak of 299,054.

In February, medical marijuana consumers purchased 4,754 pounds of cannabis, slightly down from January’s figures, indicating a stable demand despite the overall decline in program participation.

Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

San Francisco’s Annual 4/20 Cannabis Festival Cancelled

The organizers of San Francisco’s iconic 4/20 cannabis festival, traditionally held at Golden Gate Park’s Hippie Hill, announced on Tuesday that this year’s event will not proceed as planned. Citing insufficient sponsorship from the struggling cannabis industry and staffing concerns stemming from recent budget reductions within the city’s Recreation & Parks Department, event organizers expressed regret over the cancellation.

For decades, the 4/20 celebration at Hippie Hill has been a hallmark event, drawing cannabis enthusiasts and supporters across the state and beyond. In recent years, the city has accommodated the festivities by arranging live music and permitting licensed cannabis vendors to set up booths to serve attendees.

In a statement posted on, event organizers lamented the challenges they faced: “Unfortunately, the 4/20 Hippie Hill event in Golden Gate Park will not be happening as planned this year—due to citywide budget cutbacks, the climate of the cannabis industry and economy we have been unable to secure enough financial sponsorship to get everything required for a safe, clean, city and state compliant event.”

The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department confirmed the cancellation in a press release, indicating that alternative activities, such as volleyball and kickball tournaments, will take place in the park on April 20 instead.

“We understand the disappointment and hope to make it up with a great event next year,” said event organizer Alex Aquino. “We encourage everyone to support their local equity brands, dispensaries and lounges on 4/20 as we all celebrate plant medicine.”

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