UMW poll shows Virginians favor legalizing marijuana by a large margin
Virginians are growing increasingly supportive of the idea of legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults, according to a new University of Mary Washington statewide survey.
By a margin of 61 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed, Virginians said they support legalizing pot for adults, according to the poll, which was conducted Sept. 3-15 for UMW by Research America Inc. The rest were uncertain.
The 2019 results marked a sharp increase from a 2017 Mary Washington survey, in which 39 percent of respondents favored legalization of pot for personal use.
“The latest Mary Washington survey demonstrates – to quote Bob Dylan, ‘the times they are a-changin’ – here in the Old Dominion,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of its Center for Leadership and Media Studies.
Possession of marijuana remains illegal under federal law throughout the U.S., even though roughly a dozen states, mostly in the Northeast and the West, and the District of Columbia have reversed state laws that prohibited marijuana for recreational use. Other states, including Virginia, have granted permission for some producers to begin selling THC-infused products for certain medical conditions.
Roughly three-quarters (72 percent) of Democratic respondents in the Virginia survey favored legalization, as compared to 62 percent of independents and 41 percent of Republicans. Two-thirds (66 percent) of African Americans support legalization, as do 58 percent of whites and 72 percent of Latinos.
Legalization is very unpopular among Virginians 65 years of age and older, generating 36 percent support. A majority of all other age groups support legalization, including 80 percent of those respondents under the age of 25.
A majority of voters in all five regions of the state support legalization, ranging from a low of 52 percent in the Northwest to a ceiling of 65 percent in Northern Virginia.
The University of Mary Washington’s Virginia Survey Fall 2019 obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1009 adults, ages 18 or older, living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (293) and cell phone (716). The survey was conducted by Research America Inc. Interviews were done in English from Sept. 3 to 15, 2019. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ±3.1 percentage points (N=1009) and ±3.3 percentage points for the subsample of registered voters (N=882).