Medical marijuana enjoys broad support in state, poll finds

January 29, 2004

Ronald Campbell, Orange County Register

 Medical marijuana may be controversial in Washington, but there is precious little controversy among California voters.

A new Field Poll shows that 74 percent of voters support Proposition 215, the medical marijuana initiative approved with just 56 percent of the vote in 1996.

Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, young and old alike strongly support the measure, which allows medical use of marijuana when a doctor prescribes it.

'The medical use (of marijuana) conjures up in people's minds that these people are seriously ill, and whatever medicine they need should be made available,' Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said.

'This isn't a liberal-conservative issue,' said Hilary McQuie, campaign director for Americans for Safe Access, a Berkeley group that promotes medical-marijuana rights. 'It's one of those issues that cuts across party lines.'

Marijuana use for any reason is still illegal under federal law, although enforcement efforts have been mixed, and some cities and physicians openly cooperate to provide marijuana to those who suffer chronic pain.

The Field Poll found that support for medical marijuana ranged from a high of 92 percent among liberals to a low of 53 percent among conservatives.

Support was in the high 70s among all age groups except those 65 and older, who backed medical marijuana by a 59 percent margin.

The most socially conservative group in the poll, weekly churchgoers, backed medical marijuana by 53 percent, DiCamillo said.

Opinions are still fractured over recreational use of marijuana though attitudes have become far more tolerant since Field first asked about it in 1969.

The key is personal experience.

Just under half of the state's voters admit they have smoked marijuana at least once. That group is far more likely than non-users - 63 percent vs. 37 percent - to say that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.

The telephone poll of 500 registered voters was conducted Jan. 5-13. The margin of error is 4.5 percentage points.

Be the first to Comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.