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Early Presidential Primary State Voters Oppose Federal Intervention In Local Marijuana Laws, Poll Shows



A majority of likely Democratic voters in the first three presidential primary states—Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina—feel that states, rather than the federal government, should be responsible for regulating medical and recreational marijuana.

That finding comes from a recent survey conducted by the public affairs firm Firehouse Strategies and the data analytics group 0ptimus, which was shared exclusively with Marijuana Moment. The survey asked roughly 1,700 voters in the early-voting states about their cannabis regulatory preferences.

“Do you believe the regulation of medicinal and recreational marijuana should be controlled by the federal government or remain in the control of individual states?” the survey asked.

Form the northeast to the midwest to the deep south, the results were consistent: likely Democratic primary voters in all three states indicated that they overwhelmingly favor a state-based regulatory model, as opposed to having the federal government take control.

Via Firehouse Strategies.

Sixty-two percent of likely primary voters in Iowa said states should regulate cannabis, compared to 34 percent who preferred federal regulation. In New Hampshire, 69 percent of respondents favored local control, with 26 percent favoring federal control. And in South Carolina, 60 percent said states should regulate the marijuana market and 35 percent said the feds should be in charge.

As the field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates continues to grow, the results indicate that the contenders ought to “promote states’ rights to set their own cannabis laws,” Alex Conant, a partner at Firehouse Strategies, told Marijuana Moment.

“Since so many members of Congress are running for president, this could give further momentum to bipartisan legislation recognizing states’ laws,” Conant, who previously served as communications director for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said.

Nearly every major Democratic candidate vying for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination has endorsed legalizing cannabis—with a major notable exception in former Vice President Joe Biden.

(Rubio, for what it is worth, was one of a small handful of 2016 presidential candidates who said he would not have respected the right of states to set their own marijuana laws if elected.)

The survey, which polled Democrats who voted in the 2016 or 2018 Democratic primaries, showed strong support for state-level regulation of the legal cannabis industry—a result that stood out to Conant.

“Typically Democrats want strong federal laws to advance new rights (e.g., abortion or gay marriage), but so far that’s not the case with cannabis,” he said. “Most Democratic voters don’t want to see the federal government intervene here.”

Also of note is the majority support for regulating marijuana at the state level in South Carolina, home of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chair of the influential Senate Judiciary Committee. Considering the critical role the senator plays in advancing—or blocking—cannabis reform through his chairmanship, Conant said he “could have an opportunity to appeal to some Democratic voters if he takes a strong stance on allowing states to regulate cannabis use.”

Bipartisan legislation such as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act represents one legislative option to that end.

Read the full polling memo on early state voters views on marijuana below:

Primary State Marijuana Poll by on Scribd

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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