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Poll: majority of Americans support legal marijuana

August 3, 2018

The vast majority of Americans support legal medical marijuana, and more than half believe recreational marijuana should be legalized, according to a new poll released by Harris Insights and Analytics of Rochester, NY.

The online poll surveyed more than 2,000 adults and found that 85 percent support legal medical cannabis, with 57 percent favoring legalized recreational use.

The poll found that generations are divided on the subject of recreational marijuana. Adults younger than 34 are largely in favor, with 67 percent supporting it, compared to only 38 percent of those older than 65.

A similar poll released in January by the Pew Research Center found similar results, with 61 percent of those surveyed favoring legalized marijuana. It’s been climbing steadly for decades -- in 1990 only 16 percent of the population supported legalized marijuana, by 2000 the number that climbed to 31 percent.

Pennsylvania’s own embrace of marijuana has been moving quickly.

Gov. Thomas Wolf signed a medical marijuana bill into law in April 2016. The first dispensaries opened in February.

More than 6,000 patients have purchased marijuana at a Pennsylvania dispensary, according to data from the state.

The state plans to grant permits to 23 new dispensaries and 13 growers by the end of this year, doubling the size of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Originally state law only allowed the sale of heavily processed marijuana -- in the form of pills, tinctures or concentrates -- but starting this week dispensaries will be permitted to sell “dry leaf” marijuana, which is expected to be cheaper.

The law says patients must vaporize dry leaf marijuana, not smoke it.

Some Pennsylvania politicians are hoping to see recreational marijuana legalized soon.

Pittsburgh Mayor bill Peduto and Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale had a joint press conference July 19 calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana for Pennsylvanians 21 or older.

A legal marijuana industry would generate $500 million a year in annual tax revenue, according to DePasquale.

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