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Medical marijuana popular as N.J., D.C. near legalization

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds broad support for the legalization of medical marijuana - a move currently underway in New Jersey and the District of Columbia - and a majority says that if it is legalized, it should be available to any patient who gets a prescription.

More than eight in 10 in the new poll back legal medical marijuana, up significantly from a Post-ABC poll conducted in May 1997. Most, 56 percent, say if it is legalized it should be available to any patient, one in five favor a system where it would be available only to the terminally ill and the same share say it should be available to those with serious, non-fatal illnesses.

The shift in views coincides with growing support for the legalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Overall, nearly half of all Americans, 46 percent, now back this idea, unchanged from this spring, but more than double the proportion saying so in the late 1990s.

Medical marijuana

Q. Regardless of what you think about the personal non-medical use of marijuana, do you think doctors should or should not be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes to treat their patients?

[Chart]

Q. Should it be limited to patients who are terminally ill and near death; or also allowed for patients who have serious but not fatal illnesses; or should it be allowed for any patient the doctor thinks it could help?

[Chart]

With New Jersey set to permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes and the District of Columbia making moves to do the same, the effort to legalize medical marijuana appears to be gaining traction on the eastern seaboard. Of the 13 other states where medical marijuana has been legalized, only Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island are on the east coast.

Though there are not differences in support for the overall idea of legalized medical marijuana by region, those in the West are less apt to say it should be available to any patient (46 percent, compared with 54 percent in the Northeast and 60 percent in the Midwest and South). Westerners are more apt to favor a middle ground, allowing medical marijuana for those with serious but not fatal illnesses (29 percent) than limiting it only to those terminally ill and near death (22 percent).

Support for medical marijuana is highest among liberals (92 percent), moderates (87 percent), college graduates (86 percent), Democrats and independents (both 85 percent favor) and non-seniors (83 percent).

On the broader question of legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, Americans are largely divided, with sharp fissures by age, ideology and party.

Majorities of those under age 40 support legalizing personal-use marijuana, compared with about half of those age 40-64 and just 23 percent of seniors. In a departure from typical gender gaps, men are more apt to favor more liberal marijuana laws than are women (51 percent vs. 42 percent).

By party, Democrats are most apt to favor legalized marijuana (53 percent), while independents are about evenly split (49 percent favor it, 50 percent oppose) and Republicans tilt against legalization (32 percent favor to 66 percent oppose).

Q. In general, do you favor or oppose legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use?

            Favor   Oppose   No opinion
1/15/10      46       51          2
4/24/09      46       52          2
10/24/02*    39       53          8 
5/27/97      22       75          3 
8/26/86      25       74          1 
5/19/86      22       77          1 
4/28/86      23       75          1 
3/24/86      21       78          1 
5/13/85      26       72          2
*Time/CNN: "Do you favor or oppose the legalization
of marijuana? (IF FAVOR) What about in small amounts,
for example three ounces or less? Do you favor or oppose 
the legalization of marijuana in small amounts?"

Q. Regardless of what you think about the personal non-medical use of marijuana, do you think doctors should or should not be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes to treat their patients?

          Should   Should not   No opinion                                  
1/15/10     81         18            1
5/27/97     69         27            4

Q. If doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana to patients, should it be limited to patients who are terminally ill and near death; or also allowed for patients who have serious but not fatal illnesses; or should it be allowed for any patient the doctor thinks it could help?

          Terminally   Serious/      Any       No                          
             ill       not fatal   patient   opinion                        
1/15/10      21           21         56         2
5/27/97      29           13         52         6

SOURCE: This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 12-15, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,083 adults including users of both conventional and cellular phones. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. Error margins are larger for subgroups. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

By Jennifer Agiesta  |  January 18, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  Post Polls  
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Comments

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Posted by: marijuanalobby | January 18, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Good news, now if only the other states would wake up and realize that Marijuana could replace FDA - approved drugs on the market that are directly responsible for thousands of deaths. Marinol - the Drug the politicians like to tout as the safe legal version of Marijuana, was directly responsible for four deaths. Marijuana has never been the primary cause of death.

Learn the truth!

http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/viewtopic.asp

Posted by: CriticalThinkingCitizen | January 18, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Come on, You cant ask a Straight up Marijuana Legalization question on the phone!!! Don't you Media folk realize there are still people out there who are hesitant to answer such a touchy question on the phone. Lets just get a vote on the ballot in every state and go for it BEHIND A CLOSED CURTAIN. Look at what ALL the online polls show when people don't have to worry about giving their name,duh.

Posted by: drtodd1977 | January 18, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Medical marijuana is a difficult subject as it seems like many states rush to pass the laws without developing effective methods to regulate it. We discuss this topic on my website, www.theweedblog.com . Check it out sometime as we welcome people with all opinions and viewpionts.

Posted by: ninjasmoker | January 18, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

We now have 14 states that recognize marijuana as a medicine and the US Attorney
General has a "medical marijuana" policy,but our drug enforcement bureaucracy
still refuses to move marijuana from the schedule 1 drug list. WHY?
If it has medical applications,it is not a schedule 1 drug.
Is it because they are afraid of losing a large part of their funding? Since over 1/2 of their multi-billion dollar budget
is used fighting marijuana.
Or is it because when they no longer control the medical and clinical testing of marijuana that America will see just how much money they have already wasted in the last 4 decades fighting a drug that is safer than our drinking water?

Posted by: claygooding | January 19, 2010 12:34 AM | Report abuse

MARIJUANA ISN"T ENOUGH! We need HARD narcotics in order to tolerate the organized crime that is our government.

Posted by: FireWashington | January 19, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

It’s appalling that anyone would be against allowing someone to use marijuana on the advice of their doctor.

Both the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association have expressed support for investigation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Marijuana in various forms, not necessarily smoked, has been used therapeutically for centuries in many parts of the world. Marijuana appears to provide relief from pain, nausea, and other symptoms, with fewer ill effects and a greater margin of safety than the narcotic drugs commonly administered for pain, and safer even than the non-narcotic drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen and related compounds that are responsible for a few hundred deaths each year (www.acponline.org/journals/annals/15sep97/nsaid.htm).

The American College of Physicians position can be found at (www.acponline.org/advocacy/where_we_stand/other_issues/medmarijuana.pdf)

The American Medical Association position is available at www.ama-assn.org/assets/meeting/mm/i-09-ref-comm-k.pdf (the Medical Marijuana section begins on page 12 of the 27 page document).

I hope that anyone who can benefit from the medical use of marijuana is allowed to do so safely, without having to go to a criminal drug dealer and without fear of prison for himself or herself.

Posted by: conservativechristian1976 | January 20, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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