Support for legalizing medical marijuana is growing in Pennsylvania, according to a poll conducted by Robert Morris University.
The survey showed 67.5 percent of Pennsylvanians are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, up from 56.1 percent in a similar RMU poll last year.
“The number that we’re getting from this latest poll is consistent with national support for medical marijuana, which is around two-thirds,” Phil Harold, an RMU political science professor, said.
According to Harold, the rise in support came after Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf announced he would back medical marijuana legislation. Tom Corbett, Wolf’s Republican predecessor, opposed the measure and called for more research before legalization.
A bill to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is currently sitting in the general assembly.
“There’s a changing climate of opinion that is very favorable,” He said. “It would not be surprising to me if this would pass in Pennsylvania in the near future.”
Twenty-three states have legalized pot for medical purposes. Two years ago, Colorado legalized recreation marijuana and Alaska did the same one year later. Recreational use is also allowed in Washington state, Washington D.C. and Oregon.
“It’s an issue that has gained more public acceptance with other states also legalizing medical marijuana,” Harold said.
According to the poll, 69 percent of those 44 and younger and 61 percent of senior citizens in Pennsylvania support the legalization of medical marijuana. More Democrats than Republicans are in favor of legalization. And, 71 percent of men and 63 percent of women show support for legalized medical marijuana.
Despite the growing support, Harold said marijuana legalization can still be a polarizing subject.
“The theme that was coming out in their comments was, ‘This has medical benefits,’” Harold said. “But the people who were opposing it were saying this is something that has potential for abuse.”
Twenty-six percent of opponents fear marijuana would be abused if legalized. Another 10 percent worry people will operate a vehicle while high if pot were made available.
State Sens. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) and Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) have also introduced legislation that would legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use.