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Supermajority of Americans Want Legalization, Harris Poll Finds

Published on July 31, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020

The online poll commissioned by HealthDay and Harris Polling found that 85 percent of American adults say that cannabis should be “should be legalized for medical use,” while 57 percent are in favor of legalizing for recreational purposes.

“Voters believe that ending America’s failed marijuana prohibition laws is a common-sense issue, not a partisan one,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano told HealthDay. “It’s time for their elected officials to take a similar posture, and to move expeditiously to amend federal law in a manner that comports with public and scientific consensus, as well as with marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural and legal status.”

Despite the demand for reforming marijuana laws, four out of five are in favor of regulations that include prescriptions from medical professionals, and FDA approval of medical cannabis products.

Marijuana is seen as a way to ease the opioid crisis and even prevent opioid-related deaths.

The desire for legalizing medical use seems to come from concerns over opioid abuse, as 53 percent believe that fewer people would die from overdoses if marijuana was legally available.

“Marijuana is seen as a way to ease the opioid crisis and even prevent opioid-related deaths,” said Deana Percassi, managing director of the Harris Poll’s public relations.

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Worries about kids, pets

The online poll included more than 2,000 U.S. adults and was conducted in mid-July, at a time when Oklahoma lawmakers are working to create a legal medical marijuana system. Michigan and Oklahoma will also vote on adult-use legalization in November.

As for those opposed to legal medical programs, 57 percent of opponents cite worries marijuana would be easily accessible to children and pets.

“Opposition to marijuana — whether for medical or recreational use — comes down to fear of it getting into the wrong hands,” said Percassi.

Fred Muench, president and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, notes that most people tend to confuse legalization with decriminalization.

“Legalization and decriminalization are completely separate,” Muench said. “No person should ever be arrested for having marijuana. We would clean out our jail cells if we decriminalized.”

The HealthDay/Harris Poll was conducted online from July 12 to July 16, 2018, among 2,020 U.S. adults age 18 and over.

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Oscar Pascual
Oscar Pascual
Oscar Pascual is a journalist based in Southern California specializing in cannabis, entertainment, sports and sneaker culture. He is the editor of Smell the Truth and contributes to Cannabis Now. His accomplishments include an interview with the Beastie Boys and a smoking session with John Salley.
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