Nation & World

Poll: Near-universal support for medical marijuana; feds should leave states alone

A poll released Thursday shows that a clear majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana nationwide, and nearly three-quarters of those surveyed say that the federal government should not enforce federal laws in states that have chosen to legalize medical or recreational pot use.

The Quinnipiac Poll found that 59 percent of voters said that marijuana should be made legal in the United States, with 36 percent opposed. The numbers shifted in the opposite direction among Republicans (61 percent opposed) and voters over the age of 65 (51 percent opposed). Pollsters noted that every other demographic group surveyed — broken down by political party, gender, education, age and racial group — supported legalization.

A new poll finds that 93 percent of Americans support allowing patients to use medical marijuana when prescribed by a doctor. (File: Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“Our country might be divided on some issues, but more and more it is looking like marijuana policy is not one of them,” said Mason Tvery, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “People do not want federal prohibition laws to be enforced in states that have rejected them.

“President Trump said throughout his campaign that he supported states’ rights to determine their own marijuana policies. We are hopeful that he will maintain that position, which is clearly in line with the majority of Americans.”

Tvery’s optimism may be undercut, though, by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s comments Thursday afternoon indicating that the Department of Justice planned to pursue “greater enforcement” of federal law in states that had chosen to legalize recreational marijuana use. Spicer seemed to indicate that the government would not target medical marijuana states.

Medical marijuana prescribed by a doctor enjoyed an astounding 93 percent approval among voters. Seventy-one percent of voters said that the federal government should not enforces laws against marijuana in states that have legalized its use — a proposition that gained support from every single demographic group, Quinnipiac noted.

Pollsters surveyed 1,323 voters nationwide between February 16 and 21. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.