A national poll conducted by the University of Iowa shows widespread support to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, but broad opposition for recreational use.
The poll, released Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, showed 65 percent of adults favor legalizing medicinal marijuana, while just 30 percent favored legalizing recreational marijuana.
“Medical marijuana is becoming a less controversial issue for Americans,” said Amanda Keller, UI graduate assistant for the Hawkeye Poll Cooperative and for the independent study class that conducted the poll. “We see quite a bit of support.”
The telephone survey of 1,458 adults included residents of 40 states, including 51 Iowans, Keller said.
Both states that have passed medical marijuana legislation and those that have not were included, she said. Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have passed measures to allow medicinal marijuana.
The Iowa Board of Pharmacy voted 6-0 last month to send a bill to Iowa legislators that would reclassify marijuana as a schedule II drug, which could be prescribed by doctors.
As a schedule I drug, marijuana is not legally allowed for any purpose in Iowa.
Republicans who will have a majority in the Iowa House next session and governor-elect Terry Branstad, a Republican, have said they are not interested in taking up the issue.
Keller said while politicians still see it as a controversial, the UI poll shows otherwise.
The poll showed broad support among political affiliations for legalizing medicinal marijuana, with 69 percent of Democrats; 57 percent of Republicans and 77 percent of Independents favoring its use.
Diverse age groups also supported medicinal use.
Fifty-five percent of adults aged 18 to 34; 69 percent of those 35 to 54; 71 percent of those 55 to 69 and 63 percent of those 70 and older favored legalization for medicinal use.
Keller said it’s speculated that older adults might understand the need for medical marijuana as a person ages.
Adults aged 35 to 54 were the group to most favor legalization of marijuana for recreational use, with 38 percent support. Just 29 percent of adults aged 18 to 34 favored legalization for recreational use; with 28 percent ages 55 to 69 and 13 percent of those 70 and older favoring that purpose.
Most respondents said legalization for either purpose should be left to states, rather than federal or local government.
Asked how important the issue of legalizing marijuana was to their vote in the Nov. 2, 2010, election, 47 percent said it was unimportant, while just 29 percent said it was very important.
The Hawkeye Poll Cooperative includes UI faculty, graduate students in political science and 10 undergraduate students enrolled in an independent study class through the Department of Political Science.
Margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 2.5 percent. The poll was conducted Nov. 3-11, 2010.