Are Religious People Less Likely to Support Marijuana Legalization?

Marijuana plants are grown indoors.
(Image credit: Peter Kim/

People who believe that the Bible should be taken as the literal word of God may be much less likely to support the legalization of marijuana than those who believe the Bible is a book of moral fables, according to a new study.

The study found that people who reported in national surveys that they believed that the Bible is God's word were 58 percent less likely to also say they support marijuana legalization, compared with people who thought the Bible is a book of fables and should not be taken literally.

In addition, the more frequently that people attended religious services, the less likely they were to support marijuana legalization, the study found.

However, the extent to which people considered themselves to be religious was not a significant predictor of their views on marijuana legalization, said study author Daniel Krystosek, a graduate student in sociology at the University of Nevada. [11 Odd Facts About Marijuana]

The results show that the relationship between people's religiousness and their views on marijuana legalization is complex, according to the study, published Sept. 3 in the International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice.

In the study, Krystosek pooled data from three years of national surveys that included a total of about 3,800 people in the U.S. The surveys were conducted in 2006, 2008 and 2010 by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

The surveys included questions about whether people thought that marijuana should be legal. The surveys also asked how often people attended religious services, to what extent they considered themselves to be religious, how often they prayed, and whether they thought that the Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally or whether it is an ancient book of fables that should not be interpreted literally.

They also asked the people if they owned guns and whether they supported legalized abortion. Moreover, the surveys asked the people about their political views.

Krystosek found that 58 percent of the people who supported marijuana legalization also supported legalized abortion. In comparison, only 32 percent of people who opposed marijuana legalization supported legalized abortion. The higher support for legalized marijuana among people who also support abortion might be explained by a belief that the government should not influence people's choices, Krystosek told Live Science.

In the study, he also found that people with conservative political views were about 53 percent less likely to support marijuana legalization, compared with people with liberal views. People who had moderate views were 37 percent less likely to support marijuana legalization, compared with people with liberal views.

Most American adults now seem to support marijuana legalization: A 2015 Gallup poll found that 58 percent of U.S. adults say that marijuana should be legal in the U.S. That was the third consecutive poll to show a majority of Americans support marijuana legalization, Gallup said.

The older the people in the study, the less likely they were to support marijuana legalization.

"As people get older, they start families, and many parents do not want their children experimenting with drugs," Krystosek wrote in the study. "Therefore, they might oppose the legalization of marijuana."

Originally published on Live Science.

Staff Writer