A steadily growing majority of voters in Wisconsin say they want marijuana to be “fully legalized and regulated like alcohol,” according to a new poll.
Wisconsin is lagging behind other states in the Great Lakes and Midwest regions in advancing marijuana policy reform. Unlike nearby Illinois and Minnesota, the state does not have medical cannabis beyond an extremely limited CBD program.
And even simple possession of marijuana is punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
This lack of progress isn’t because voters are unwilling.
Sixty-one percent of voters said they want marijuana prohibition to be replaced with legal regulations, according to a new poll Marquette University Law School released on Wednesday, compared to 36 percent who said they were opposed.
That’s a slight increase from 2016, the last time the question was asked, when 59 percent said they supported legalization and 39 percent were opposed.
These results are consistent with other surveys, including national polling conducted by Pew and Gallup, which also find marijuana legalization popular with a majority of Americans. A separate poll in New Jersey, also published on Wednesday, showed majority support for legal cannabis in that state.
The Wisconsin results also show that voters there continue to warm to the idea despite intransigence from Gov. Scott Walker (R), who has called marijuana a gateway drug and who has voiced support for drug-testing recipients of government benefits.
The majority of marijuana consumers do not move on to use other, harder drugs, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found.
The new survey also shows that marijuana legalization is slightly more popular among men than women, and far more popular among Democrats than Republicans.
Sixty-two percent of men said they favored legalization, compared to 53 percent of women.
And 62 percent of Republicans want to keep marijuana illegal, while 76 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents said they favored legalization.
Ending prohibition was most popular among voters ages 30 to 44. Seventy-three percent of those respondents said they favored legalization, with 68 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 and 61 percent of voters aged 45 to 59.
Marijuana legalization proved least popular among older voters and among religious voters, according to the poll.
The results may bode well for Tony Evers, the Democratic challenger to Walker, who trails the governor by two points in the same poll.
Evers has said that he would sign medical cannabis legislation into law if elected and has said he also favors decriminalizing marijuana and holding a voter referendum on broader legalization. Marijuana-friendly candidates have had a string of success in other races across the country.
Meanwhile, a number of counties throughout the state will have nonbinding marijuana advisory questions on their November ballots.
Photo courtesy of Max Pixel.