Majorities of Americans Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana in Their State

Debate around the legalization of marijuana has been hot. Several states have legalized it for medical purposes and some have considered legalizing it more broadly. When asked if Americans would support legalizing marijuana in their state, three quarters of Americans say they support legalization of marijuana for medical treatment (74%) with almost half saying they strongly support it (48%). Significantly fewer Americans say they oppose the legalization of medical marijuana in their state (18%), and even less are not sure (7%) or decline to answer (1%).

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,171 adults surveyed online between February 14 and 21, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

Americans are much less supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Two in five support legalizing marijuana for recreational use in their state (42%) and half oppose it (49%) – 7% say they are unsure and 2% decline to answer.

Differences by Region

Adults in the East are most supportive of legalizing marijuana for both medical use (80%) and recreational use (50%). The West is the next most supportive region — 76% support legalizing medical marijuana and 50% say so for recreational marijuana. While three quarters of Midwesterners support medical marijuana legalization (74%), less than two in five say so for recreational use (39%) and Southerners are least supportive of both medical marijuana legalization (69%) and marijuana legalized for recreational use (34%).

Who Should Make the Decision

While most Americans support legalizing medical marijuana, there is no consensus about legalizing marijuana for recreational use and who should decide whether or not to legalize it. A plurality of 44% of adults say it should be a state decision, 40% say it should be a federal decision, and 14% are not at all sure. There again are some regional differences — over half of Westerners (52%) think marijuana legalization should be a state decision compared to fewer in the South (44%), Midwest (42%) and East (38%) who say the same. Easterners are most likely to say it should be a federal decision (47%).

What Would the Result Be

If marijuana was legalized generally, majorities think it would cause an increase in both the number of people who use marijuana (68%) and the amount of marijuana used (68%). However, majorities also think it would increase tax revenue (75%), with 51% saying it would cause a large increase in tax revenue, as well as an increase in the consistency and standardization of marijuana used (59%). Substantial pluralities say that legalizing marijuana generally would cause a decrease in the crime rate (41%) and the amount of money spent on prisons/prisoners (44%).

So What?

Marijuana has been legalized for certain medical uses in 15 states, possession of the drug has been decriminalized in various places, and California recently voted on whether or not to legalize it completely (they voted not to do so). Americans may favor legalizing the drug for medical purposes, but many questions remain unanswered such as: what medical issues warrant the use of marijuana? Where should it be dispensed? Who should regulate production and distribution? Furthermore, some experts believe much more work is needed to ascertain the risks and benefits of marijuana use.

TABLE 1 LEGALIZING MARIJUANA FOR VARIOUS PURPOSES “Certain states are discussing the idea of legalizing marijuana. Would you support or oppose the legalization of marijuana for the following purposes in your state?” Base: All adults
Support (NET) Strongly support Somewhat support Oppose (NET) Somewhat oppose Strongly oppose Not at all sure Decline to answer
% % % % % % % %
Medical treatment 74 48 26 18 7 10 7 1
Recreational use 42 23 19 49 12 37 7 2
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
TABLE 2 LEGALIZING MARIJUANA FOR VARIOUS REASONS – SUMMARY OF SUPPORT “Certain states are discussing the idea of legalizing marijuana. Would you support or oppose the legalization of marijuana for the following purposes in your state?” Summary of those saying “strongly support” or “somewhat support” Base: All adults
Total Region Generation
East Midwest South West Echo Boomers (18-34) Gen X (35-46) Baby Boomers (47-65) Matures (66+)
% % % % % % % % %
Medical treatment 74 80 74 69 76 73 72 80 65
Recreational use 42 50 39 34 50 49 45 43 22
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
TABLE 3 SHOULD LEGALIZATION OF MARIJUANA BE A FEDERAL OR STATE DECISION “Regardless if you think marijuana generally should be legalized or not, do you think that the decision should be at the state level, or do you think it should be a federal decision which applies to all states?” Base: All adults
Total Region Generation
East Midwest South West Echo Boomers (18-34) Gen X (35-46) Baby Boomers (47-65) Matures (66+)
% % % % % % % % %
Should be a state decision 44 38 42 44 52 43 35 48 44
Should be a federal decision 40 47 41 40 33 40 45 37 45
Not at all sure 14 15 16 13 13 14 18 14 10
Decline to answer 2 1 1 2 2 2 2 1 1
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
TABLE 4 LEGALIZING MARIJUANA WOULD CAUSE THE FOLLOWING “If marijuana was legalized generally, do you think it would cause an increase or a decrease in the following?” Base: All adults
Increase (NET) Large increase Small increase No change Decrease (NET) Small decrease Large decrease Not at all sure Decline to answer
% % % % % % % % %
The crime rate 28 17 11 22 41 23 17 8 1
The number of people who use marijuana 68 33 34 20 5 3 2 5 1
Tax revenue 75 51 24 9 5 2 3 10 1
The amount of money spent on prisons/prisoners 20 13 8 21 44 20 25 13 2
Consistency and standardization of the marijuana used 59 35 24 19 6 3 3 15 1
The amount of marijuana used 68 39 29 19 5 2 3 6 1
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 14 to 21, 2011 among 3,171 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

– Article from The Sacramento Bee.

Comments

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous on

    This 49% immorally opposed to legal cannabis is working with false pretense (a vast majority are anyway). Polling about ‘what cannabis is/does’ amongst the drug-war mongers would show false views… fears about brain damage, behavioral disorders like laziness & so on… education is, thus, key.

    -if people know better, they tend to favor ethics… otherwise, they’re fighting against ethics without knowing better via plain ignorance or deliberate ignorance (stupidity, which is more socially acceptable in many social groups).