A recent poll from Public Policy Polling found increased support for the full legalization of marijuana for adult use.
Tom Jensen is the director of Public Policy Polling based in Raleigh. He recently spoke with 97.9 The Hill’s Aaron Keck and explained how a poll out of Florida – asking preferences on the legalization of marijuana – relates to North Carolina. Jensen said both states have voted within a few points of each other for the past three presidential elections, which may indicate where North Carolinians stand on the issue.
“You’d probably find a similar picture in North Carolina and that’s 59 percent support for full legalization of marijuana to only 31 percent of voters who are opposed to it,” Jensen said.
In September 2020, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted to pass a resolution decriminalizing marijuana.
The goal of the resolution is to foster a community rejecting oppression and inequity. The resolution states the current prohibition of marijuana has caused the needless arrest and incarceration of thousands of individuals – predominantly those of color – for nonviolent crimes.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners requested the North Carolina General Assembly to advocate for legislation ending the prohibition of marijuana on a federal level.
While this has not been approved yet in North Carolina, Florida poll results show there is a trend in support for the full legalization of marijuana in the state.
Jensen said he conducted a national poll of voters on the legalization of marijuana in 2014 which had a margin of support by one or two points. Now, his polls in “red” states like Florida are showing the difference of 28 points in support.
“It’s really starting to get to the point where at least with the general public, marijuana legalization is not that controversial,” Jensen said. “Politicians are moving a lot slower on it than the voters are.”
The poll showed while there is a partisan divide present on the issue, there is more so a generational divide. Older Democrats over the age of 65 had only a two-point margin in support for legalization of marijuana. Younger Republicans under the age of 45 had a 15-point difference in support.
“It’s pretty unusual to have an issue like that where the younger group of Republicans is maybe more progressive on the issue than the older set of Democrats,” Jensen said
Jensen said the support for legalization of marijuana will continue to grow along with the generational divide. He said more younger voters in North Carolina are choosing to register as unaffiliated because they feel disconnected from both parties.
Jensen said one way Democrats could appeal to those voters is by fully embracing marijuana legalization and incorporating it into the party’s message.
“I think that’s an opportunity that democrats maybe need to pursue more than they have, that they’ve been leaving that issue too much on the table,” Jensen said. “It’s sort of a situation where there’s clear opportunity for Democrats both in North Carolina and nationally to pick up voters and win support for their party on the issue of marijuana legalization.”
Lead photo AP Photo/Julio Cortez
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