Polls are showing surging support for legalized marijuana almost everywhere, and Maryland is no exception. They may not be quite as progressive there as they are in some other parts of the country, but most Marylanders still support legal green.
The Goucher Poll, conducted in late October, found that 51 percent of Maryland residents back legalization. That’s several points shy of the national support found by Gallup last month, but still a majority.
When asked whether they favor decriminalization, meaning fines or rehab rather than jail time, more than 80 percent answered yes. And almost everyone – 90 percent – said they support the prescribed use of medicinal pot.
Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher University, which conducts the poll, said the findings suggest decriminalization “will be an issue to watch” in the next legislative session.
Maryland has already enacted medical marijuana, becoming the 19th state to do so when Gov. Martin O’Malley a bill into law earlier this year. But patients won’t start seeing legal medicine for at least another two years, making decriminalization an immediate issue.
An attempt to do it was passed by the state Senate this year but died in the House of Delegates. It would have made possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation, punishable by a $100 fine. Supporters have promised to try again next year.
Despite the strong support for legal weed, however, there doesn’t seem to be any serious effort at making that a reality in Maryland.
Fifteen states have decriminalized cannabis, while two – Colorado and Washington – have legalized it. With public support growing by leaps and bounds, efforts to legalize in other states are expected to succeed in coming years. Neighboring Washington, D.C., is considered a possible laboratory for regulating weed.
Regional support may vary, but nationally, large majorities want the government to start treating cannabis like alcohol. About 58 percent of Americans back legalization, according to a Gallup poll released in October.