Augusta Free Press

Poll: Increasing support in Virginia for medical marijuana, gay marriage

Virginia voters support medical marijuana by an overwhelming 84 – 13 percent, but support for recreational marijuana is divided, with a large generation gap and a smaller gender gap, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Support for medical marijuana ranges from 75 – 21 percent among Republicans to 92 – 6 percent among Democrats and from 81 – 17 percent among voters over 65 years old to 90 – 9 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.

Support for legalizing marijuana for personal use is 46 percent, with 48 percent opposed.  Democrats support the measure 58 – 35 percent, with Republicans opposed 68 – 27 percent and independent voters divided 47 – 47 percent.  Men support it 52 – 43 percent while women oppose it 51 – 42 percent.  Voters 18 to 29 years old support legalizing marijuana for personal use 71 – 26 percent, with support dropping through the age groups.  Voters over 65 years old are opposed 66 – 24 percent.

Only 39 percent of Virginia voters, including 46 percent of voters under 30 years old, admit that they ever have tried marijuana.

“More than four in five Virginians favor allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, although on this question and others involving the drug, support for its use is a bit lower than in some other states where we conduct surveys,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“When it comes to legalizing marijuana for recreational use Virginians are divided.”

Marijuana is equally as dangerous as alcohol, 47 percent of Virginia voters say, while 36 percent say it is less dangerous and 14 percent say it is more dangerous.  Marijuana use does not lead to use of other drugs, voters say 51 – 41 percent.

If marijuana use were legal in Virginia, 62 percent of voters say it would not bother them if neighbors grew marijuana in their home.  Republicans and voters over 65 years old are the only listed groups who say they would be bothered.

A total of 82 percent of voters say they would be “somewhat uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” riding in a car driven by someone who has smoked a moderate amount of marijuana.  The discomfort level is 58 percent among voters 18 to 29 years old and higher for other groups.

Same-Sex Marriage

With strong support from women, Virginia voters favor 50 – 42 percent allowing same-sex couple to get married in the Commonwealth.  Support is 54 – 38 percent among women while men are divided with 46 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed.

Support for same-sex marriage is 69 – 22 percent among Democrats and 52 – 42 percent among independent voters, with Republicans opposed 70 – 23 percent.

Voters under 30 years old support it 69 – 25 percent, with support at 50 percent or higher among voters 30 to 64 years old.  Voters over 65 are opposed 56 – 35 percent.

“Support for same-sex marriage in Virginia shows a similar pattern to support for use of marijuana:  The younger you are, the more Democratic you are, the more likely you are to support both of these social issues,” Brown said.

From March 19 – 24, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,288 voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points.  Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa and the nation as a public service and for research.