A new poll indicates the overwhelming majority of Virginia voters support a medical marijuana program that would make pot available to the people who need it for medical treatment. But when it comes to legalizing recreational pot, voters are split almost evenly.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, about 83 percent support medical marijuana and 13 percent oppose it, in a new poll from Quinnipiac University. That same poll found 46 percent support recreational pot with 48 percent opposed.
Among all respondents, only 39 percent admit to ever trying marijuana themselves, which when paired with the 83 percent that support medical marijuana is a good sign that people don’t only want marijuana restrictions loosened for their own benefit, but for the benefit of others.
The poll numbers show the state “is moving toward more sensible drug policies, along with the rest of the country, and the overwhelming support for medical marijuana is something the legislature can’t ignore in 2015,” according to Dick Kennedy with Virginia NORML.
But the opinions on recreational marijuana haven’t changed as much as some advocates would like. Nationwide, the majority of Americans support legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a Gallup poll last October which put the support rate at 58 percent. Virginians aren’t quite that far in their thinking.
Still, a growing support for medical marijuana could usher in more acceptance of recreational pot as well.
“Support is growing quickly among all segments for a controlled, taxed cannabis market,” said Ed McCann, also of Virginia NORML. “Legislators would also be well-served to implement medical cannabis access, since the overwhelming majority of Virginians support such. Support from those under 30 for more progressive policies is widespread and will only increase as more states legalize cannabis.”
The Marijuana Policy Project reports that of the 22,024 marijuana arrests in Virginia in 2011, 90 percent were for possession charges. These are misdemeanor charges, hardly worth the resources used to enforce them.
Just a single joint can get you 30 days in jail here, and a blemish on your record that can haunt you for years to come.
While Virginia is behind many states in regards to support of lightening criminal penalties for marijuana offenses, change is sweeping the entire nation and it’s likely only a matter of time before it reaches us as well.