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Vast Majority of Adults in Kentucky Favor Medical Marijuana Legalization

Feb 5, 2020

Marijuana remains the most widely used illicit drug in the United States, with more than 22 million users each month nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marijuana policies are being debated throughout the U.S. and in Kentucky. To help understand attitudes about marijuana in the commonwealth, the 2019 Kentucky Health Issues Poll asked Kentucky adults whether they favor or oppose legalization and knowledge of its use among friends/family. The survey is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati on behalf of Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Nine in 10 favor medical marijuana

To understand attitudes about legalizing marijuana, KHIP asked adults for their opinions about:

·        Legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, if their doctor recommends it: 90% of Kentuckians favor this; compared to 2012, when 78% supported.

·        Legalizing marijuana under any circumstances: 59% of Kentucky adults support this, compared to 38% in 2012.

·        Legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes: 49% support, compared to 26% in 2012.

KHIP also examined marijuana policy by political party affiliation, finding that support for legalizing marijuana was strong across all political parties; and that Democrats were more likely than Republicans or Independents to favor legalization under any circumstances or for recreational purposes.

“The shift in public opinion around marijuana policy is notable from KHIP 2012 to KHIP 2019,” said Jennifer Chubinski, Vice President of Research and Evaluation at Interact for Health. “However, it’s important to note that the policy landscape around marijuana has shifted considerably during that timeframe as well. In 2012, 18 states and the District of Columbia had legalized medical marijuana, compared to 33 states and the District of Columbia today. Further, in 2012, the first policies to legalize recreational marijuana were passed in Colorado and Washington state. Today, recreational use is legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia.”

In Kentucky, House Bill 136, pre-filed in late 2019, proposes to legalize medical marijuana. As of Jan. 31, the bill had been referred to the Judiciary Committee for review.

Four in 10 know someone who regularly uses marijuana

KHIP also asked respondents, “Do you have a friend of family member who regularly uses marijuana?” Four in 10 Kentucky adults said yes. This is the first time KHIP has asked this question.

For additional information, please visit https://www.interactforhealth.org/about-khip/.

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