Poll: Majority of Ohioans support legalizing pot; 90% back medical use

In this Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015 photo, marijuana plants with their buds covered in white crystals called trichomes, are a few weeks away from harvest at the Ataraxia medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. Trichomes can be described as a blanket of crystal resin that the surround the bud. They contain cannabinoids like THC and CBD. Marijuana strains with names like Blue Dream, OG Kush, Death Star and White Poison are now being cut and dried, and by mid-October, will be turned into medicine in many forms like oils, creams, buds for smoking, edible chocolates and gummies. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Credit: Seth Perlman

Credit: Seth Perlman

MARIJUANA: OHIO DECIDES

* Watch our complete Marijuana: Ohio Decides town hall forum hosted at Sinclair Community College

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* Read our reporters’ special coverage from Washington state where marijuana is already legal for recreational and medical use and how it might impact Ohio.

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Less than four weeks before Ohioans will decide state Issue 3, a new Quinnipiac University poll finds that 90 percent of Ohio voters support medical marijuana and 53 percent support legalizing personal use.

Issue 3 would would legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes for adults age 21 and older, designate 10 commercial growing sites that are controlled by the investors backing the Issue 3 campaign, and allow for limited home growing.

The Quinnipiac poll question did not ask voters if they specifically support Issue 3 but instead took a more generic approach. This is in line with previous poll questions on marijuana legalization.

The poll found a gender gap on the issue of marijuana with men supporting personal use 59 -38 percent and women divided 47 - 49 percent. And support is stronger with younger voters: 70 percent of 18 to 34 year olds support it, 59 percent of those 35 to 49, and half of those 50 to 64. Nearly two-thirds of voters over 65 oppose legalizing marijuana for personal use.

And 65 percent of voters say they would “definitely not” use marijuana even if it were legal.

Ian James, director of the ResponsibleOhio, the campaign behind Issue 3, said that the Quinnipiac poll confirms that voters want to legalize marijuana.

“Ohioans want to legalize adult personal use of marijuana and to provide medical marijuana for the compassionate care of the chronically ill,” he said. “We’re confident that Ohioans will reject the status quo and end failed marijuana prohibition in November by voting Yes on Issue 3 to provide a highly-regulated, taxed and tested system for legalization. Passing Issue 3 will make medical marijuana available, create tens of thousands of jobs and generate needed revenue for local communities’ safety services and infrastructure.”

Curt Steiner, spokesman for Ohioans Against Marijuana Monopolies, warned that the Quinnipiac poll questions are not on point to predict whether Issue 3 will pass. “The question could not have possibly been phrased more favorably for marijuana legalization,” he said.

The group announced Thursday it’s running its first TV ads against Issue 3.

Support for medical marijuana seems to be climbing while backing for personal pot is holding steady.

In April 2015, Quinnipiac pollsters found 84 percent of Ohio voters supported allowing medical marijuana while 15 percent opposed it and 52 percent supported letting adults possess small amounts of pot for recreational use while 44 percent opposed it. Also, 84 percent of voters said they probably wouldn’t use pot even if it were legal for recreational use.

In February 2014, the same poll found support for medical marijuana in Ohio stood at 87 percent and support for recreational pot was 51 percent. In that poll, 44 percent of voters said they have used marijuana, 43 percent said pot use leads to other drug use, 76 percent said they’d be uncomfortable as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has used moderate amounts of weed and 47 percent ranked marijuana as dangerous as alcohol while 36 percent viewed it less dangerous and 14 percent said it was more dangerous.

For the latest data, pollsters surveyed voters from Sept. 25 to Oct. 5 on land lines and cell phones. In Ohio, 1,180 voters participated and the margin of error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Nationally, a little more than half of Americans believe marijuana use should be legal, up from just 12 percent in 1969, according to Gallup.

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