At VAAY, we value open, social debate and continually strive to both find and implement ways to improve societal well-being. Thanks to its proven positive effects in many cases, we believe that cannabis has a strong potential, both medically for society and, as a consequence, for the national economy. The cannabis industry is in a rapidly changing landscape, where public and political attitudes are changing very dynamically due to the increasing liberal view of cannabis for medical purposes worldwide.
Based on the public discussion currently taking place and the current statements of the Federal Government Commissioner for Narcotics, Daniela Ludwig (CSU), it is undeniable that the discourse is gaining more and more ground. To add value to this discussion, we collected over 12,000 survey responses in Germany to assess the public sentiment towards cannabis legalization in a statistically representative study.
This survey was designed to measure the diversity of opinions on cannabis legalization in Germany based on a range of demographic data. To collect our data, we commissioned Civey to conduct the survey. Participants were then categorized by their state, followed by their voting intention for the federal election. The results were supplemented with analyses of respondents' age, marital status, employment status, gender and possible children. Overall, the result is the largest representative survey on cannabis legalization in Germany, providing a clearer picture of current public opinion on the issue.
"With the European cannabis industry having a potential total market value of 123 billion euros* by 2028, we wanted to broaden the discussion by providing reliable data and insights on overall societal sentiment," comments Finn Age Hänsel, co-founder and CEO of VAAY. "As Europe's largest economy and a core member of the European Union, we wanted to find out what public opinion is about cannabis in Germany. Given Germany's influence, it would also be interesting to see what impact a change in Germany's position on cannabis could have on the rest of Europe as well."
Federal States and Administrative Districts
A detailed chart of the answers on state basis can be found at the bottom of the article
Overall, all states in Germany are in favor of cannabis legalization to some degree ("medical only" or "fully legalized" combined). The largest percentage of support in eight out of sixteen states is for complete legalization, regulation and taxation of cannabis (Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Baden-Württemberg), where Berlin comes closest to an absolute majority in favor of complete legalization at 49.7%. Among the other states, the average percentage supporting legalization of cannabis for medical use is 42.44%, while the average percentage supporting its legalization with regulation and taxation is 41.16%. Overall, at least 75% of respondents in each state support legalizing cannabis for medical or recreational use. On average, less than ten percent of respondents in Germany, regardless of state, support the criminalization of cannabis. The highest level of support for criminalization is in Saxony-Anhalt at 16%, while the lowest is in Bavaria at 6.9%..
While the majority in all states support cannabis legalization to some degree, states in which the largest proportion of participants support cannabis legalization, taxation, and regulation have an overall share of more than half of the seats (35 out of 69 seats) in the Bundesrat, which are divided based on population. The data show that county trends are similar, with differences in several counties in North Rhine-Westphalia (Detmond), Bavaria (Lower Franconia, Upper Palatinate), and Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinhessen-Palatinate), where the majority in these counties differed from the state level.
Election Intention (Federal-level)
The data show that overall, the majority of respondents are in favor of legalizing cannabis for medical purposes or full legalization with regulation and taxation, regardless of their voting intention in the Bundestag election. Of the major political parties represented in the Bundestag and the European Parliament, over 50% of respondents who intend to vote for Die Linke (56.6%) or the Greens (58.0%) favor full legalization with regulation and taxation. Complementing this, the majority of those who intend to vote for the Christian Democrats support the current state of cannabis legalization for medical purposes (52.9%). The CDU/CSU is also the party with the largest percentage in favor of legalization for medical purposes and the smallest percentage in favor of full legalization (27.5%). Respondents who intended to vote for one of the other parties in the survey - the Free Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Alternative for Germany - had similar results (legalization with regulation and taxation: FDP 38.7%, SPD 46.0%, AfD 30.3%; legalization for medical purposes: FDP: 40.9%, SPD: 41.7%, AfD: 46.8%). By and large, voters classifying themselves as "other" shared similar results to the Green Party. (Legalization with regulation and taxation: 57.3%, legalization for medical purposes: 29.6%). Respondents intending to vote for the AfD represented the largest share of advocates for cannabis criminalization at 16.8%, followed by the FDP (12.8%) and the Christian Democrats (10.9%). Overall, voters, regardless of their voting intention, at least support legalization of cannabis for medical purposes with over 75% approval. Respondents who intend to vote for the Greens have the highest percentage here, at 91%.
Respondents by age group from youngest to oldest show an inverse relationship between support for legalization with regulation and legalization of cannabis for medical purposes. Most saliently, there is a clear absolute majority in favor of full legalization, regulation, and taxation among participants under age 40 (53.0% between ages 30-39 and 65.3% under age 30). Among the age group between 40-49 years, the largest single group (43.2%) is also in favor of full legalization, but no longer as an absolute majority. In general, however, it can be stated that the majority of persons under 50 are in favor of full legalization.
Only with higher age (50+ years) the distribution turns in favor of exclusively advocating medical cannabis as the largest single group. While less than 10% of all age groups support full criminalization of cannabis, the data shows that there is an overwhelming response to at least legalizing cannabis for medical use, with the oldest respondents (65+ years) supporting this option the most at 56.1%.
Based on the survey results, employees in all categories support legalization of cannabis for medical or recreational use by at least 80%, with overall support for criminalization below 11%. Students are by far the largest supporters of full legalization at 72.1%, followed by employees (49.7%). Unemployed individuals share a similar percentage between regulated legalization and legalization for medical purposes (39.9% for medical purposes, 42.8% for full legalization with regulation and taxation). The self-employed share a similar opinion, but lean more toward medical purposes (45.4%). As the analysis of age demographics suggests, the majority of retirees support the use of medical marijuana at 56.6%, while 27.7% support legalization for recreational use. 3% of retirees want cannabis to be illegal with impunity, while 9.2% support its criminalization.
Among male and female respondents, the results show that the majority support at least medical legalization of cannabis. 33.9% of men support the current legal status of cannabis on medical praescription, with the larger group and nearly half of male voters supporting full legalization of cannabis with regulation and taxation at 48.7%. While the majority of women generally oppose the criminalization of cannabis, their results show the opposite of male voters in terms of the extent of legality, with 49.6% of respondents supporting the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes, while 35.9% of women support the full legalization of cannabis. Regarding the criminalization of cannabis, more male voters share this perspective with 10.4% compared to 7.7% of women.
Married people show the broadest support for medical marijuana at 46.7% with 36.0% in favor of regulated legalization. In comparison, our data show that the majority of respondents support full legalization of cannabis at 57.9%, while 28.6% support medical prescription. Interestingly, divorcees are split in their views on cannabis legalization, with the percentage of votes split between 43.0% and 46.0% (full legalization). Divorcees are also the target group with the lowest percentage of respondents against the criminalization of cannabis, 6.7%, with 2.8% supporting illegality but with impunity.
Children in the Household
Parents have a positive view of cannabis overall, with 44.1% of this demographic supporting legalization and taxation of cannabis, just over seven percent more than those who support medically prescribed cannabis (36.9%). In comparison, more parents also support legalizing cannabis if there is regulation and taxation; childless people are in favor at 41.1%, while medically prescribed cannabis is slightly favored at 44.2%. Compared to the other demographic groups, parents are slightly more reluctant to the legality of cannabis with 10.1% in favor of criminalization compared to 8.4% of adults without children. In addition, slightly more than twice the percentage of parents support the illegality of cannabis with impunity (7.0%) compared to those without children (3.3%).
Overall, 84.1% of Germans support the legalization of cannabis in various forms, with a narrow lead of 42.1% for full legalization, taxation and regulation. 42.0% advocate purely medical release. On the other hand, only 9% of respondents believe cannabis should be illegal, along with 4.1% who believe it should be illegal but with impunity.
Click here to download all statistics and numbers conducted in this survey.
This survey was conducted through Civey, an external opinion polling platform using machine learning technology. An online survey network of more than 25,000 websites (URLs) through Civey Riversampling is used to gather users' opinions around the clock. Civey relies on non-probability samples and has developed a process to compensate for possible bias. Survey responses were checked to verify that the user is a real person, provides sufficient information, and measures the possibility that their response is truthful. A quota-based sample is drawn based on variables such as age, gender, intent to vote in the general election, time of voting, and location of voting to ensure that a minimum number of respondents from each population group were included. Finally, the votes in the sample are reweighted by other sociodemographic considerations such as age, gender, marital status, population density, purchasing power, and party preference to correct for any remaining bias. Finally, the weighting of the data is based on official population data obtained from the Federal Statistical Office or the Federal Election Commissioner.
For more information on the methodology, please see the following link: https://civey.com/pro/unsere-methode
*The figure for the potential of the European cannabis industry in 2028 comes from the European Cannabis Report (4th Edition), prepared by Prohibition Partners and Aphria Inc.
Detailed view of state-level responses: