Survey shows support for medical marijuana

April 12, 2005

Lesli Bales-Sherrod, Daily Times

Residents of Tennessee's 8th Senatorial District support permitting physician-prescribed medical marijuana use.

The response to that question on Sen. Raymond Finney's survey distributed throughout Blount and Sevier counties was the only one that surprised Finney, he said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

``They may have been more opposed to it if all the facts were on the table,'' he said.

On the other hand, Finney said the closeness of that vote -- 51 percent in favor versus 41 percent against -- and others on the nonscientific survey reflect the divided nature of the country.

``Understand how difficult this division in thought makes it on your leaders at all levels of government,'' Finney wrote in his e-newsletter Friday, in which he released the results of 495 surveys returned to his office. ``Nearly half of citizens will be displeased no matter which way a vote is cast.''

[...]

Finney said he was not surprised by most of the answers to the survey.

``Some showed exactly what other polls have shown,'' he said, using as an example 77 percent of respondents favoring letting voters decide whether the state constitution should be amended to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman only.

Finney wrote in the e-newsletter that he will do his best to reflect the majority view when these issues come for a vote, but that he may deem it best to side with the minority view on some issues.

``The issues are not as simple as I was required to present them in a one- or two-sentence question,'' he wrote. ``I will, however, always be ready to explain and defend the reason for voting against the apparent majority in this survey.''

Finney said Tuesday he would vote against the majority view when he is privy to information that may not be made available to the general public.

``There are reams of paper coming into my office every day. We spend hours in hearings,'' he said. ``The better solution may be something many people are not aware of. I will do in my judgment what is best for them.''

In the meantime, Finney said he had read all the comments respondents attached to the surveys and had found them to be instructive.

``Everyone gave heartfelt, well-thought-out, well-considered answers,'' he said. ``Everyone took it seriously.''

Finney is still accepting and tabulating responses to the survey. However, he will not publish any further results, he said.



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