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Record-High 59% of Pennsylvanians Support Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Findings in a new poll show that a majority of voters in Pennsylvania are now in favor of legalizing adult use cannabis.

Nearly six in 10 Pennsylvania voters support legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a new poll by Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion Research. The support for adult use marijuana legalization is the highest the poll has ever seen.

Fifty-nine percent of the roughly 400 voters surveyed said they approved of adult-use legalization, up from just 22 percent who said they favored legalization in 2006, the first year the college started polling on marijuana. Support for recreational marijuana legalization is up 3 percentage points since Franklin & Marshall College’s last poll in May 2017.

Only 31 percent said that marijuana shouldn’t be made legal, and 9 percent remained undecided.

“Notice the evolution. It’s been a slow and inexorable growth in support during the past decade,” said polling director Terry Madonna. “And it’s important, because Pennsylvania has had a history of being a relatively conservative state on social questions. Nobody has ever accused it of being on the cultural vanguard.”

While the survey’s findings clearly show that Pennsylvania voters support legalization, according to Madonna, cannabis policy changes are not among their highest priorities.

“When you ask them what they think is most import problem, legalization of pot does not come up. It doesn’t have a lot of intensity,” Madonna said. “So there’s nothing driving lawmakers to legalize it.”

The shift in attitudes around cannabis among voters in the Keystone State, according to Patrick Nightingale of marijuana-advocacy group Pittsburgh NORML, has to do with a combination of there being less of a stigma associated with cannabis use, and an awareness of the benefits that come to state governments when marijuana is legalized and regulated.

“People in Pennsylvania read the news, they see the shows, they see the progress in other parts of the country,” Nightingale told the Pittsburgh City Paper. “We need property-tax relief, our schools needs more funding, and we have a gigantic deficit in the state budget. They know recreational marijuana can help that.”

In March, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale voiced his support for legalizing recreational marijuana, claiming it could help the state manage its revenue problem by generating $200 million in taxes. He said the findings in this latest poll are another indication that the state government should legalize and regulate adult use cannabis.

“The public is ahead of the politicians on this issue,” DePasquale said. “They know the way we are dealing with marijuana right now makes no sense. It is time to regulate and tax it. It will be better for the people of Pennsylvania. It will generate tax revenue, it will actually help create jobs, and it will save law enforcement time in trying to prosecute people who are not a threat to society.”

“When you get to 60 percent support, it is not just one group,” added Pasquale. “That means it is really growing across the board.”

The mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, also voiced support for marijuana legalization this year, arguing it would save funds and resources used to enforce prohibition.

Pennsylvania is in the midst of organizing its medical marijuana program after Gov. Tom Wolf signed the state’s medicinal cannabis act into law last year. The program is slated for launch in 2018. Cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil products, like Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s Real Scientific Hemp OilTM (RSHOTM), are available in Pennsylvania and in most major markets in the U.S.

The Center for Opinion Research at F&M surveyed Pennsylvania voters on behalf of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs between September 13 and 18.

Eight U.S. states and Washington D.C. have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Learn more about the current marijuana laws in Pennsylvania by visiting our education page.