20 Jun BLUE & RED STATES UNITED OVER MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION? An Analysis of Attitudes in Oregon & Alabama’s Largest Markets
June 20, 2017
From: CONSUMER RESEARCH AROUND CANNABIS
The political divide in the US has dominated the 24-hour news cycle for months. However, there appears to be at least one issue on which Americans may actually agree, and that is the legalization of cannabis in one form or another. The acceptance of marijuana now seems to have bipartisan support according to recent surveys by CONSUMER RESEARCH AROUND CANNABIS. The research firm provides insights into consumer attitudes regarding marijuana usage, currently available for nearly 30 local markets across the United States, with over 50 more on the way. This unique survey data offers insight into local cannabis markets, allowing medical professionals, dispensaries, hospitals, and other businesses, to make informed decisions in the quickly changing medicinal marijuana marketplace.
Portland, Oregon and Birmingham, Alabama are two examples of the blue vs. red divide in US politics. According to statistics in The New York Times, Alabama voted overwhelmingly Republican in the recent national elections, with 62% voting for President Trump, and 34% voting for Secretary Clinton. Not surprisingly, Oregon was somewhat reversed, leaning toward the Democrats, with 50% voting for Clinton, and 39% voting for Trump. Oregon also had a large number of votes for third-party candidates.
Based on the latest voting patterns, as well as preconceptions regarding these two parts of the country, one might assume that attitudes regarding marijuana legalization would be as divergent as the aforementioned election results. However, the issue is more complex than just red vs. blue. Local survey data from over 1,900 respondents in the Portland and Birmingham areas reveals some thought-provoking insights into these two distinctive geographic areas.
The first statistic of interest is that the majority of adults in both the Greater Portland Metropolitan Area, and the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan Area agree cannabis should be legalized in some form, whether for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. 73.8% of adults in the Portland area favor legalization of marijuana use, a higher percentage than that of the Birmingham area. However, Birmingham’s 60.2% approval rate is a clear majority of the population in a region consisting of Alabama’s largest city and surrounding suburban counties.
GRAPH 1: Percentage of adults 18+ that approve of legalization of cannabis/marijuana for medical and/or recreational usage, Portland, Oregon vs. Birmingham, Alabama.
As previously mentioned, Birmingham’s location in the Deep South means its residents are expectedly more politically conservative than those of the Pacific Northwest’s progressive Portland. However, regardless of political affiliation, a majority of adults support some form of cannabis legalization.
GRAPH 2: Percentage of adults 18+ that approve of legalization of cannabis/marijuana for medical and/or recreational usage, broken out by political affiliation, Portland, Oregon vs. Birmingham, Alabama.
70.6% of the Birmingham area attends religious services on either a “regular and/or an occasional” basis. The equivalent number in the Portland area is lower, at 46.7%. If we look at the more devout in each market and only explore responses from adults who said they attend religious services “regularly,” the numbers drop to 38.1% in Birmingham, and 21.4% in Portland. It is worth mentioning that the more religious respondents in both markets (regular attenders) also approve of legalization in one form or another. In addition, the approval numbers among more religious adults are very similar in both of the Greater Metropolitan Areas.
GRAPH 3: Percentage of adults 18+ who approve of legalization of cannabis/marijuana for medical and/or recreational usage, that attend religious services on a regular basis, Portland, Oregon vs. Birmingham, Alabama.
The largest markets in both Oregon and Alabama agree that marijuana should be legalized for medical and/or recreational purposes, but differences do start to appear when one digs into the data a little deeper. These differences are rooted in the “and/or” logic, splitting support between those that feel marijuana should be legal for recreational and medicinal use, vs. those that only support medicinal use.
Data from CONSUMER RESEARCH AROUND CANNABIS shows that 56.7% (a majority) of adults in the Greater Portland Metropolitan Area approve of cannabis use for either purpose. In the Greater Birmingham Metropolitan Area, the number that approve of medicinal and recreational drops to 36.5%. Those that support medical use only (no recreational use) in Portland represent 16.2% of the adult population, while in Birmingham, 23.3% support cannabis for medical purposes only. Notably however, this still means that of those that support legalization in the Birmingham area, the majority of the pro-cannabis consumer segment there supports both recreational and medicinal use.
Another noticeable statistic is the number of people in the Birmingham area, Alabama’s largest consumer market, that don’t have an opinion on the topic. Of those adults surveyed, over 1/4 of the population (25.8%) didn’t take a stance either way. In Portland, only 15.6% responded that they had no opinion, suggesting that Portland is much more enthusiastic about legalization, and that Birmingham is somewhat more indifferent.
GRAPH 4: Percentages of adults 18+ opinions regarding various forms of legalization of cannabis/marijuana for medical and/or recreational usage, Portland, Oregon vs. Birmingham, Alabama.
Either way, only 10.6% of Portland area adults oppose any cannabis legalization, and just 13.9% of Birmingham adults oppose any legalization. Based on the data collected by CONSUMER RESEARCH AROUND CANNABIS and this brief analysis, one might predict that it won’t be long before Alabama turns from gray to blue on the map below, showing states broken out by cannabis/marijuana’s legal status.
GRAPH 5: Map of the United States color coded by the legal status of marijuana/cannabis by state.
CONSUMER RESEARCH AROUND CANNABIS is an expanding company that has consumer survey data in nearly thirty of its 85+ plus US markets, with plans to expand in to the Greater Toronto Area in Canada in the Fall of 2017. The surveys are conducted online and are based on large, reliable samples. They are conducted semi-annually in the 48 largest markets, and annually in all remaining US markets. The company is the only local market research firm that merges cannabis usage, perceptions, and attitudes with local market, consumer-level demographics, lifestyles, habits, and plan-to-purchase targets.