Virginians love the idea of medical marijuana, but they’re not so hot on legalization for recreational use, according to a poll released at the end of March.
The Quinnipiac University poll found 84 percent of Virginia voters favor MMJ, while just 13 percent oppose it. That’s slightly behind the national trend.
Support for medical weed was strong in every major category polled. Seventy-five percent of Republicans, 92 percent of Democrats, 81 percent of older voters, 90 percent of younger voters – they all want to see MMJ made law.
The same is not true of full legalization, however. The poll found just 46 percent of Virginia voters want to legalize and regulate weed for adults like alcohol. Forty-eight percent oppose the idea.
That’s several points below the national average; a majority of American voters favor legalizing marijuana. The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,288 voters.
Young voters, aged 18 to 29, are the most supportive of legalization in Virginia. They back the idea by 71 percent. Older voters, over 65, oppose it by 66 percent.
Democrats favor legalization by 58 percent while Republicans oppose it by 68 percent. Independents are evenly split at 47 percent. Men support it by a slight majority while women oppose it by about the same degree.
“More than four in five Virginians favor allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, although on this question and others involving the drug, support for its use is a bit lower than in some other states where we conduct surveys,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the poll. “When it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Virginians are divided.”
The age breakdown of support for legal weed suggests that’s likely to change in coming years, and rapidly. The group most fiercely opposed to legalization is dying while the group most adamantly in favor of it is coming of age.
Still, Virginia has a ways to go. One explanation for its weak support of legalization is the way in which residents view the drug itself.
Asked which was more dangerous, alcohol or marijuana, 47 percent of voters said they’re equally dangerous, 36 percent said weed is less dangerous and 14 percent said it is more dangerous. By almost every conceivable measure – mortality rates, hospital admissions, fatalities – marijuana is much less dangerous than alcohol.
States whose residents have a similarly unrealistic view of the relative dangers of cannabis and alcohol tend to produce weak support for legalization.