This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

More North Carolinians think that legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational uses would be a good move for the state, according to a new poll from Elon University.

The survey, conducted from Jan. 29 to 31, determined that

“Opposition to recreational marijuana legalization fell substantially over the last three years,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science. “I suspect this is due in large part to the wave of states that have passed legalization measures. Medical marijuana legalization remains broadly supported in every demographic group we examined.”

In 2017, Elon asked North Carolinians if they support or oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

At the time, more people said they were against legalization than said they supported it with 45% in favor and 50.5% opposed.

Now, that balance is shifting.

In 2021, the Elon poll found that more people support legalizing marijuana for recreational use with 54% in favor and 43% opposed.

Support legalizing recreational marijuana


45% in favor
50.5% opposed


54% in favor
43% opposed

The 2017 and 2021 poll results for legalizing medical marijuana have remained much closer with North Carolinians showing strong support for the move in both surveys.

In 2017, 80% expressed support for legalizing marijuana for medical use. 17% were opposed.

In 2021, 73% expressed support with 18% opposed.

Elon University said that looking at the data by demographics shows that opinions on recreational marijuana seem to be connected to age and politics.

“We found a major generational gap for recreational marijuana legalization with those under 44 being about twice as likely as those 65 or older to support legalization,” Husser said. “Notably, these large generational differences do not extend to support for medical marijuana and lowering criminal penalties. Most Republicans also supported reducing penalties and legalizing medical marijuana.”

Younger North Carolinians are more likely to support legalization of recreational marijuana based on the percentages below.

Support legalizing recreational marijuana

62% of people ages 18 to 24
65% of people ages 25 to 44
52% of people ages 45 to 64
32% of people ages 65 and older

This survey, however, did not just ask if people would “support” legalizing recreational marijuana. It also asked if they would “oppose” the measure. The date shows similar results with more older people and fewer young people opposing legalization.

Oppose legalizing recreational marijuana

23% of people ages 18 to 24
22% of people ages 25 to 44
38% of people ages 45 to 64
56% of people ages 65 and older

Looking at the data by political affiliation, more than half of Democrats and people of neither party support legalization. Just seven points short of half of Republicans supported legalization.

Support legalizing recreational marijuana

59% of Democrats
43% of Republicans
57% of people of neither party

People of neither party again joined Democrats with just over a quarter of each group opposing legalization.

Only 6% more Republicans oppose legalization versus Republicans who support it, showing that the party is much more evenly divided on the issue.

Oppose legalizing recreational marijuana

29% of Democrats
49% of Republicans
27% of people of neither party

Elon University collected this data from a survey of 1,455 adult residents of North Carolina from Jan. 29 to 31 using an online opt-in sample marketplace. The survey has a credibility interval of +/- 2.7 percentage points. The credibility interval is an accuracy measure for opt-in online surveys. A fuller explanation of the credibility interval and the survey methodology are available in the full report.

The survey was conducted by the Elon Poll in partnership with The Charlotte Observer, The Durham Herald-Sun and The Raleigh News & Observer.