Iowans overwhelmingly support allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical use, according to poll results released this morning.By an 87 to 17 percent majority -- with the support of 68 percent or more of every party, gender and age groups, Iowans support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, Quinnipiac University Poll found.
That level of support is comparable to other states, according to Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“Iowans overwhelmingly think marijuana should be legal for medical purposes, but most voters oppose legalizing personal recreational use,” Brown said. On the other hand, “Opposition to personal marijuana is higher in Iowa than in any state we’ve surveyed so far on this subject.”
Despite that level of support, efforts in the Iowa Legislature to legalize medicinal marijuana have failed to gain broad support this year.
Both Republican and Democratic legislative leaders say there is more interest and discussion about medicinal marijuana, but more education and research is needed before the issue can be considered further.
Among those leery of medicinal marijuana is Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican seeking a sixth term.
Although he sympathizes with families who say medicinal marijuana would offer them relief from a variety of conditions, Branstad said officials must keep in mind the “unintended consequences” that could lead to abusing the system.
“I think we have to be careful about drafting our laws just for a few people that have a particular problem or ailment,” Branstad said.
By a 55 to 41 percent margin, Quinnipiac found Iowans oppose allowing marijuana for personal use. Democrats support personal marijuana use 54 to 44 percent and voters 18 to 29 years old support it 62 to 35 percent. Quinnipiac found all other groups are opposed to legalizing recreational use, with men opposed 51 to 45 percent and women opposed 59 to 37 percent.
That may be because 49 percent of Iowans say marijuana is equally as dangerous as alcohol, while 16 percent say it is more dangerous and 31 percent say it is less dangerous, Quinnipiac found. Voters are evenly divided 46 to 46 percent on whether marijuana use leads to other drugs. Men say no 50 to 42 percent while women believe 51 to 42 percent it does lead to other drugs.
Only 36 percent of Iowa voters, including 42 percent of voters 18 to 29 years old, say they ever have tried marijuana.
The poll also found:
• 83 percent of voters would be somewhat uncomfortable or very uncomfortable riding in a car driven by someone who has smoked marijuana
• If personal marijuana use were legal in Iowa, 57 percent of voters say it would not bother them if a neighbor grew marijuana in their home
• Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana has been bad for the state’s national image, Iowa voters say 54 to 28 percent
The poll of 1,411 registered voters, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent, was conducted March 5-10 by live interviewers calling landlines and cellphones.
Marijuana is classified as a Scheduled 1 controlled substance both in Iowa and at the federal level. Although 20 states and Washington, D.C., have established medical marijuana programs the subject remains contentious in states such as Iowa where lawmakers fear an improperly established program could lead to lax enforcement and rampant recreational use.
Earlier this month the Iowa Board of Pharmacy denied a petition seeking to change a rule regarding the practice in Iowa, saying it did not have the authority to establish a state medical marijuana program.