Researchers have studied Pew Research Center cannabis survey data in an effort to understand why women are less likely than men to support cannabis reforms, Marijuana Moment reports.
The study, published in the Social Science Quarterly journal, found some possible explanations. It is unusual that women, who are largely more liberal than men, are on the conservative side of the cannabis issue. Pew Research Center data, weighted for a variety of phrasings of that question, showed that 67% of men support cannabis legalization while only 61% of women do.
It was immediately clear that parenthood was not the cause. “Being a parent is not a predictor of attitudes on the marijuana support scale,” researchers wrote. “Indicating that being a parent does not account for any of the gender gap.”
Instead, researchers found there were two clear predictors: religion and previous cannabis experience.
Women, according to the national survey data, were more likely to identify as born-again Christians and reported attending church services more often than men. Said researchers, “Greater religiosity substantially explains the gender gap in marijuana policy.”
The strongest factor, however, was familiarity with cannabis overall. Only 42 percent of women reporting had ever tried cannabis, compared to 55 percent of men. The same percentages were seen when survey participants were asked if they felt comfortable around the plant.
Researchers believe that, due to their findings, it seems the current gender gap in support for cannabis reform is temporary.
“Though it is challenging to accurately predict the future contours of the gender gap in marijuana, we do think our findings here are instructive. As marijuana use becomes more common and seen as less risky or deviant behavior, and as marijuana use is framed less as a moral issue (which will presumably be the case as it grows more common and legalized), there is reason to expect the gender gap to shrink,” the researchers wrote.
The study authors were clear that more study is needed to reinforce their own findings as well as understand the finer points of the issue.