Zogby Poll: Pot's Less Dangerous Than Alcohol Or Tobacco

Thursday, 18 July 2002

Three Out Of Four Americans Say Booze, Tobacco Pose Greater Risk Than Marijuana

Washington, DC:  Americans rank marijuana as far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, according to national poll of 1,109 likely voters by Zogby International and commissioned by The NORML Foundation.

Forty-seven percent of respondents said they believe that alcohol is the most dangerous recreational drug among the three choices.  More than one-quarter of respondents (28 percent) believe tobacco to be the most dangerous.  Only one-fifth (20 percent) of Americans say that marijuana is the most dangerous.

Respondents' rankings were mildly influenced by age.  Among Americans age 30 to 49, 51 percent ranked alcohol as the most dangerous drug, compared to only 12 percent for marijuana.  Among those age 65 and over, 40 percent said alcohol was most dangerous, compared to 28 percent for pot.

"Americans of all ages overwhelmingly understand that marijuana is less harmful to health and society than either alcohol or tobacco," said Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of The NORML Foundation.  "Marijuana fails to inflict the type of serious health consequences these two legal drugs cause.  An estimated 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning, and more than 400,000 annual deaths are attributed to tobacco smoking.  By comparison, marijuana is non-toxic and cannot cause death by overdose."

He added: "Neither the marijuana user nor the drug itself presents a legitimate danger to public safety. It's current classification as a Schedule I criminally prohibited drug is disproportionate to its relative harmlessness.  Science and the American public acknowledge this reality.  It's now time for our marijuana policies to reflect this fact."

A previous Zogby International poll commissioned by The NORML Foundation in December found that 61 percent of Americans oppose arresting and jailing nonviolent marijuana smokers.  Only 33 percent of respondents said they support arresting and jailing pot smokers, and fewer than one in five (18 percent) strongly support such a policy.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.