04/19/2014 07:30 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Pothead Stereotype Lives, Even Among Americans Ready To Legalize Marijuana

Tobias Titz via Getty Images

Americans may be ready to let people smoke marijuana legally, but they still take a rather dim view of those who do, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows. A definite stigma remains -- though Americans don't think every stereotype holds true.

First, the better news: By a 43 percent to 37 percent margin, Americans were more likely to reject the idea that most pot smokers are "stupid" than to agree that most are. And respondents divided about equally on whether to call most pot smokers "lazy," with 39 percent saying they are and 37 percent saying they're not.

Then again, Americans don't necessarily think marijuana users are "normal" either: By a 42 percent to 34 percent margin, more respondents said that the word does not describe most pot smokers than that it does. They were also more likely than not to call most pot smokers "unmotivated," by a 43 percent to 35 percent margin. By a 54 percent to 14 percent margin, they said the word "successful" does not describe most marijuana users. And by a 54 percent to 27 percent margin, they said most marijuana smokers can be described as "potheads."

A previous HuffPost/YouGov poll showed that Americans gave more credit to those who were described as "occasionally" smoking marijuana. That survey found that, by a 59 percent to 28 percent margin, most Americans think a person can be a responsible adult and still smoke pot now and then. And by a 45 percent to 35 percent margin, a plurality of Americans thought that most of those occasional smokers are responsible adults.

Americans in the newest poll divided along party lines in describing marijuana smokers. Republicans tended to agree they're lazy (47 percent to 34 percent), unmotivated (56 percent to 27 percent) and not normal (55 percent to 29 percent). Republicans were also slightly more likely than not to call them stupid (42 percent to 39 percent).

Democrats didn't feel as strongly, but largely said pot users are not lazy (43 percent to 33 percent), unmotivated (42 percent to 35 percent) or stupid (48 percent to 35 percent). Democrats divided 39 percent to 36 percent on whether marijuana smokers are normal.

Independents fell somewhere in between, with pluralities judging marijuana users to be lazy (40 percent to 33 percent), unmotivated (42 percent to 34 percent) and not normal (40 percent to 33 percent), but not stupid (41 percent to 35 percent).

Few Americans from any group, though, said that most marijuana users are successful.

Another thing on which most Americans agree, regardless of political ideology: If you smoke marijuana, you probably are a pothead. Majorities of Republicans (61 percent to 22 percent) and independents (56 percent to 24 percent) and a plurality of Democrats (46 percent to 34 percent) said they think that word describes most marijuana smokers.

Despite these uncomplimentary words, most Americans support legalization. In a HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in February, 51 percent -- including 62 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and only 32 percent of Republicans -- said marijuana should be legal. Other recent polls have also largely found that half or more of Americans are ready to legalize.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted April 15-17 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.



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