Gender Differences in Support for Legalization

In national polls, women statistically are more resistant to the idea of legalization than men. For example, the latest Angus-Reid poll showed male support for marijuana legalization at 57% while female support lags at 53%. More dramatically, a 2010 Gallup poll showed women trailing men by ten percentage points (41%-51%) in their support for legalization. It is arguably impossible to reach strong majority support for marijuana legalization as long as this gender gap remains.

We as reformers must do more than just acknowledge this gender gap exists; we must close it. To do so, however, we must first understand why women are less likely to support marijuana legalization than men. Specifically, are there particular concerns regarding the legalization and regulation of cannabis that are held by a majority of women but not a majority of men? In an attempt to answer this question, the NORML Women’s Alliance is conducting the following poll. By conducting this and similar polls and by analyzing the results, NORML hopes to find ways to better target women with more persuasive messaging as we seek to close the existing gender gap and continue to move public support in favor of ending marijuana prohibition.

48 thoughts

  1. I really don’t mean to sound disrespectful but the reason why women are more against weed than men is because a big majority of them are stupid enough to fall for all the goodie-goodie anti-pot propaganda that is taught to them by there parents and teachers.
    In my experience here in Rhode Island it is almost always a women who will judge you for smoking pot or call the cops on you for smoking pot.
    We can stop this by sending a strong message to our young people informing them of how drinking a beer is MUCH worse for you than smoking a joint. We need to de-program the anti-weed mindset that is instilled in them by there families and teachers.
    Washing away the lies and promoting the TRUTH would be a good start.
    I agree with the article, something NEEDS to be done.

  2. I think women are less apt to rebel and more apt to follow the rules BECAUSE they are judged more harshly by society than men.
    Honestly I think that every reason listed on your survey has its roots in the fact that society has so many more double standards for women than it does for men.

  3. women are just scared more to say anything……they think dcfs will take their kids if they admit in this country that they have anything to do with “DRUGS” see how its even sounds like a dirty word as much brainwashing our schools and police have done..

  4. This is funny because from my experience, women are more “against” mj than the guys. My gf is one of those who believe mj kills brain cells, makes you a layzy idiot who cant hold a job, her friends coworkers cousins nephew overdosed after one joint, and another who thought they were invincible after partaking and got naked and drove a car off a cliff. Etc. etc. that type… While I dont smoke anymore, I try to educate her every once in awhile, (i never gey very far), I tell her to actually research it and she goes to the dea homepage and says see, it has no medical. value, etc etc. she wont even watch the videos I suggest to her

  5. I believe the gap between women vs men in legalization is overlooked even in the questions asked by the Women’s Alliance. I think the statement that women are a bit more mature when it comes to substance abuse. We men think we can handle being high or drunk all the time and it affects no one which it can put a damper on a relationship and family if we aren’t being responsible. So they (Women) sometimes have to be the responsible one and pick up the slack. It’s just not there nature to just not care and it is unattractive to them.

  6. Women are more easily persuaded through propaganda and gossip that weed is bad. And more closed minded to the fact, and are much more cautious then men. To them its not worth the complete, social excommunication from their group or clique if u will. This is especially a problem in middle class society rather then the lower class.

  7. Personally, I know many more male drug users than female, so I suspect first hand experience plays a role. Studies have shown (see that men are more likely than women to take risks, and I have seen others that point to a negative cultural perception of women who are independent or take risks. Since cannabis is illegal, using it is indeed a risk (and anti-drug campaigners have been successful in convincing many of exaggerated health risks), so women are thus less likely than men to use or support cannabis. (I would think the stereotypical overprotective mother types also contribute to the gap)

  8. Im not sure what the real numbers are but I see alot more women in healthcare. This brings on more school and more false info through text books and teaching.

  9. If it’s possible to do so, the poll should be aimed only at women who don’t support marijuana legalization. Only they can tell us what they’re thinking and feeling, what their fears are. The rest of us are just guessing.

  10. The voice of supporting women is what will, in my opinion, propel this justifiable cause for cannabis into new heights. What keeps some women from supporting this cause is anyone’s guess. Not being a female I wouldn’t do them justice in trying to speak in terms for them. If we look at percentages the support for cannabis by women is “lagging” but not by much. I’ll take guess and say, through attempting to look at it from a females POV, the reason why some choose silence over speaking in matters beneficial to cannabis is solely in consideration to their (young) children and the motherly instinct to protect them from “dangers” implemented by organizations recommendations which are seen as the truth and garner the side of law. Those without children I would say that they’re thinking more about their future and how supporting cannabis could effect that. Women are also more careful with what battles they choose. Careful to choose but once they’re in the battle their insight, character and passion is an incredibly powerful asset. “A woman’s touch” is whats needed for what ails us. Both women and men together in this movement would prove a force to be reckoned with. Good day and god bless us and our endeavors.

  11. Most of the prohibition propaganda are targeted towards women than men. Think about Joyce Nalepka and Calvina Fay, and how they put the blame on men with pot.

  12. I think alot of women feel like it will make their men lazy and ignore them more. They need to know that motivated men become more motivated and loving when they smoke. Weed does not effect the personality of a person. People are going to be lazy without the pot. This is something the government has drilled into the brains of people who have no experience with pot. If anything people will become more peaceful and understanding. They will become more compassionate towards other viewpoints and put more thought into something that their wives might say. To me women and men are the same and if more people would try it before they make such a rash decision about it, perhaps more people would speak out and expose the truth about pot instead of siding with government who constantly lies to its people. Lets all enjoy a good toke and just have fun and love each other. 🙂

  13. We’re making progress. At least people aren’t afraid to discuss marijuana in public anymore. I’m confident that eventually, marijuana will be completely legal.Several major countries have stopped listening to Washington on this issue. Politicians do whatever it takes to be re-elected. Even the hard core anti-drug politicians will eventually have to get on board or go home. By the way, that process needs to begin in 2012.

  14. I think women have more to lose than men when they get busted. They can lose their children, their homes, etc… I smoke but my children are grown and I only deal with people I know. If they don’t have smoke then I don’t either.

  15. Women fear that the marijuana propaganda may be true and don’t want their children to be harmed by it.

  16. When women are shown the health benefits and safety of this plant, minds are changed. When you discus with women the LD50 of cannabis compared to Oxycodone or even aspirin and then ask which you would prefer your child accidentally ingest the response changes.
    When enough women are well informed on this matter, you will see the gender differences disappear.

  17. From my experience, many (not all) women have are more likely to have an freak out when high. I think that many times their minds are all over the place and they worry about things that males do not. This causes them to have like the experience less than men on average. However, I know a lot of women, who do not like how it makes them feel, but acknowledge that people should be allowed to use it if they enjoy it. Furthermore, many support taxation and legalization, because they realize it is better for the body than both alcohol and tobacco.

  18. Personally I think people just aren’t speaking to us about marijuana and legalization. Women are so often ignored, especially re: political causes, that we need more direct communication. And that communication has to speak to us without speaking down to us.
    We also need more studies done on marijuana in relation to issues that affect women. For example, studies on cannabis use during pregnancy, on kids’ access to marijuana, and on health benefits and dangers. REAL studies, not propaganda garbage. Women like to make informed, fact-based decisions when it comes to their and their families’ health.

  19. It is the, keep marijuana illegal for the children, argument that keeps woman away from supporting legalization. The mainstream uses children as a human shield to prevent support anytime they run into a brick wall. People must realize that legalization is safer for children.

  20. Are we pretending alcohol prohibition wasn’t at least partially a result of women getting the right to vote?
    And before any internet basement trolls try to pick that apart I said “partially a result”

  21. i am a mother of 4. I grew up with alcoholics & cigarette smokers. I smoked cigarettes myself, but, managed to quit a couple yeas ago. I’ve seen the damage that alcohol, cigarettes & prescription drugs do to people. I would rather my children smoke cannabis than to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. I also have a husband going blind from glaucoma & i have fibromyalgia. Cannabis has wonderful medicinal properties that are being denied to all of us. It’s time for concerned women who are afraid for their friends & family to vote for legalization of a safe medicinal plant, rather than abandon them to the true evils & dangers of prohibition!

  22. No offense to all you guys out there but women support the legalization of marijuana. Although women are more reluctant to admit that the legalization would greatly benefit the future of this country, we do believe that it would be a step in the right direction. To all of you guys out there that can’t spell and speak in proper english, maybe that is the reason your women are not supporting it, because you sound like jackasses. Just saying. Enjoy, love, and one day it’ll be legal

  23. I am a woman and the ONLY reason I dont allow people to know that I smoke is because they(CPS) would take my children from me.My children are now 20,17 and 11 so I worry a little less,but that reason alone is enough for me to be careful.Legalize MJ and i will be the first in line!
    [Paul Armentano responds: The New York Times has a comprehensive article today profiling how CPS in some states will seize children if their parents are found in possession of even small amounts of marijuana — even in cases where no manifestations of parental abuse or neglect are present. Read the full story here:

  24. I think a big part of it, too, is the “Mommy Club,” this horrible stepfordian cult that teaches its members that to life is a competition to be the
    Best Mommy Everrrrr(BMRrrrrr), and to that end, women of childbearing age everywhere must defend our children against the evil world of outside influences, including to the extent of expecting everyone around them to adjust their own morals, behavior, and personal space rights (as in noisy children in restaurants) because they believe that their
    child(ren)should come first. So because of this Mommy Club, hovermoms everywhere want to arrange the world to conform to their own system of values and morals, and to presume that what’s good for them and their children is good for everyone else. These kind of people focus more on insulating their children from the real world than they do on teaching their children how to navigate the outside world.
    I agree with #2, and I’m female. I’ve lost a few friendships simply for having “admitted” to smoking pot, and for not expressing remorse about it.

  25. Killing prohibition before it kills anyone else is the life saving policy we need. Marijuana will win out and so will the people. This is already in motion and cannot be stopped. Wow, i’m smarter than dea already!

  26. for NORML #5. Have your girlfriend go to some good herbal websites for her research. We don’t do alopathic medicine when we’re sick, we do homeopathic & herbal. My kids are the healthiest kids i know. But, these sights & many good herbal books will give you the truth about many remedies, including cannabis, that the DEA & the drug companies don’t want you to know about. You don’t go to the DEA for truth.

  27. This is a very tough question to answer, and, being a man, I can only offer conjecture. Maybe I’m wrong, but MJ seems to affect some women differently.
    I know that I’m not the prolific smoker I used to be, because, for one thing, I cannot interact as easily socially as I could when I was younger. Don’t know why, but it’s definitely the case. It’s more of a cerebral buzz for me these days–makes “getting into” projects or books or whatever funner
    My wife doesn’t seem to enjoy smoking as much as she did when she was younger, for some of the same reasons–can’t interact as easily socially as before; and because MJ seems to make her sleepy these days, she says.
    As for other women? I don’t know, it’s hard to say, perhaps the “family thing?”

  28. #28
    So why do you think that women think that cannabis wouldn’t greatly benefit the future of our country or the world for that matter? It’s not just about us you know?
    I would also like to say that you do realize that not everyone that comments here is from the states? So for you to say that someone who can’t perfectly write a sentence doesn’t have a right to voice their opinion, well that is poppycock.
    I don’t mean to sound so harsh #28 and I apologize if I upset you I just don’t see the point in commenting when you have no idea where ppl are from or what condition they might be in. Just sayin’ lates.

  29. Yo! Puff.
    Women seem to prefer Coca Cola over the herb. Today’s herb is so much stronger than yesterday’s herb. You know the herb is inclined to say – “I’m going to knock your ass out now – go lay down.” You’ve got more political shit in your head to deal with today – than you did as a youth or young man.
    Best wishes to you and yours,

  30. From a woman’s viewpoint I think a great deal of the distrust of marijuana stems from lack of firsthand experience with it. I was 51 when I started smoking after searching for years for effective pain relief from fibromyalgia.
    I was amazed not only by the relief from pain but also by how very “innocent” MJ really is. I kept thinking, “This is what everyone says is so bad for you?” and wondering what else the government is lying to us about.Now I will totally discount anyone’s opinion about MJ that doesn’t have firsthand knowledge of the herb.
    My own husband was wary of my smoking I think mainly due to all the propaganda and misinformation – now he is happy that I feel better, can see me enjoying a more active and productive life, his only remaining worry the legal ramifications and what it would do to our family if I were arrested.

  31. I think thie reson women are less likely to smoke then men is one: for the reason of trying to find someone they can trust to buy from. Men are much more outgoing than women in going up to a stranger probably male and asking them where they can get it. Two: usually they have a family and kids to take care of. they fear the repercussions of getting caught and they are busy protecting their children from drugs that they would consider themselves hippocrites if they were to smoke themselves. Third, where would they go to smoke in peace. the ones with kids, they are everywhere all the time and there is no place to hide. Fourth, I would imagine that the ones that have signed up for mmj truths and or polls are the ones that do not have children. therefore the numbers would automatically and naturally be down. Five, I won’t bust the mens chops, but, they have more away time than the woman with kids. They can get away from the house for this or that and someone has to watch the kids. I think that is a fair example of reasons. what do you think? B

  32. to #36 & 28
    I would have to agree to a point that legalizing marijuana would be good for the world for a couple of reasons, but, I am just going to use the US as this is where I live. We need jobs, farmers need a cash crop. Just in that venue alone think of the money farmers could make if they were to choose mj as a crop. They could also harvest hemp which could take away our need for oil for some of the products we make. This would open up a whole new source of jobs to work those farms. Stores would have a new product to sell, well if you consider hemp too, they would have several new crops to sell, more jobs. We could get a good choice of which mj we need for what ails us, and not some random crap that the boy in HS is selling. Then we have the border wars. If we were to grow our own, we wouldn’t have the traffic coming across the border to sell their wares. The jails would be less crowded. The laws here are terrible, families have been torn apart by just possession of an illegal substance. With the need for the young man or woman on the corner selling what they have bought from someone across the border, it may even and I would hope cut down on gang activity. At least it would take the selling of mj off the corner. There are a lot of reasons why mj should be legal. That is a whole nother site I’m sure, but, at least in short I can explain why I think it would be better for the US to legalize. Now as far as the spelling crap goes. C’mon we have a bigger fight than that on our hands. Some of us are sick and some of us are very sick and to even get on the computer and be able to write is more than some of us can stand. So to get someones opinion even if the grammar or spelling is wrong, it doesn’t mean that their opinions don’t count. I am hoping you won’t hold my spelling against me. Thanks B

  33. During the late 1980’s, politicians boaster loudly in favoring cannabis prohibition. Now the prohibitionist candidates are avoiding the issue. I’ve wonder why?
    Prohibitionist propaganda are specially geared towards women and children. The children are the prohibitionist main target because they are much easier to persuade and to exploit.
    Prohibitionist are recruiting children anyway they can.
    Parents must support or join with the prohibition group to be recognized as a true responsible parent or else be on secret probation.
    That is the prohibition goal for a cannabis-free community.
    Prohibition slogan: “It seems okay if you don’t think about it”
    End prohibition. VOTE!

  34. Men are more likely to be rational thinkers and see through the hypocrisy and the damage prohibition actually causes. Women are more likely to buy into propaganda that plays on their emotions.

  35. i think pot should be legal it is solmething god lets grow makes you happpy what the problem it make america richer if it was legal all these druggiest would have to work insteed of ripping people off of here money and controling others with there power wake up america make it legal reap the harvest if you like money if not dont make it legal it just dam weeds thatg can make amerfica rich again

  36. Hey Manford, how you doing?
    I told my wife about this poll yesterday, and she reminded me that many of her co-workers, mostly women, smoke herb. ‘Course that’s just one example; I’m sure there are plenty of examples that contradict that.
    But I’m so out of the loop theze days that I didn’t even realize Coca Cola was still around! lol Hey, I HAVE become quite the light weight!

  37. Women had the power to stop alcohol prophibition, so why not this prohibition of marijuana??? This goverment think women don’t know what is what. This goverment is in for a big shock, when women change this stupid law ,that were put in place by men. Who didn’t even read what they are signing. Sad state of affairs when you just sign you name and don’t know what it is!!

  38. Men rational thinkers, who are you kidding?? I don’t belive the idea that women are buying into propaganda, that plays on our emotions! We do not beleive everything that is told to us. I really resent that statement, we are alot smarter than you men give us credit for Liberty First.
    We want cannabis legal also,just not medical but also for fun!!!

  39. Most of the replies above are from men and should be discounted as the question asked is asked of women. As a woman, I’ve smoked for years (close to 50) and have many women friends who smoke. I own my own home, have raised 4 kids on my own, worked enough to receive social security, etc. etc. like very many women. There was/is the fear of having my home, children, etc. taken away because of the illegality of using this medicine/plant. BUT, for me it’s a life saver and reliever of migraine pain, of leveling out anxiety, bi-polar, and when I had them, my period pains (which turned out to be endometriosis – (sp)).
    Why don’t women get together to promote this medicine/plant? Because, men take away. They take away everything for any little infraction of the rules. They don’t pay us enough and charge extra for the same thing. (check out the price of deoderants for men and women made by the same company with the same ingredients – women pay an average of $2 more for the same product). We are hamstrung and are desperately trying to stay safe.
    The way out of second class citizenship is to get involved and stand up to get the rights we are guaranteed(?). After all, we don’t really have those rights right now. Might as well go after them. AND, I realize that there is a very lot at stake, especially when you’re trying to take care of the kids that the men have abandoned.
    I realize that not all men are idiots. But, the laws created by men are idiotic as they try and keep us “pure”.
    Fight back in any way you can.

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