Eight in 10 Americans favor legalizing medical marijuana: poll

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, January 18, 2010 19:40 EDT
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The medical marijuana debate among American voters is over.

Eight in 10 Americans — 81% overall — support allowing doctors to prescribe cannabis, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

That’s up from just 69% in 1997, the last time the two firms asked that question, and from 75% in 2003, according to Gallup.

The main divide among American voters today is how the medical community should be enabled to dole out the drug. The most recent state to allow medical marijuana — New Jersey — has the most strenuous controls found anywhere in the nation.

Legislators prohibited doctors from prescribing the drug to anyone they think would benefit from it, instead limiting access to patients suffering from a specific list of illnesses. They also limited marijuana production to a series of non-profit facilities, as opposed to the dispensaries popular in California and other states.

A slim majority, 56 percent, support deferring to a doctor’s discretion on who should be prescribed marijuana, according to the poll.

In spite of the apparent national mandate for medical marijuana, just 14 states allow it.

When it comes to outright legalization, the news agencies found that just 46 percent are in favor. Gallup said in October that it had found 44 percent of Americans support legalization, while an Angus-Reid poll in December resulted in 53 percent in favor.

“Medical marijuana, for its part, receives majority support across the political and ideological spectrum, from 68 percent of conservatives and 72 percent of Republicans as well as 85 percent of Democrats and independents and about nine in 10 liberals and moderates,” ABC noted. “Support slips to 69 percent among seniors, vs. 83 percent among all adults under age 65.”

Read the full poll [PDF link].

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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