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Public Support For Marijuana Legalization In Maryland Fades Slightly, Poll Finds

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) -- Nearly two-thirds of Maryland residents are in favor of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, according to the results of a Goucher College public opinion poll.

Results released Tuesday found that 60% of residents support making recreational cannabis legal in Maryland, while one-third (33%) are against it. The rest were either on the fence about it or did not answer the question.

Those findings suggest public support for legalizing recreational cannabis has faded somewhat since March when a previous poll signaled 67% of Marylanders were on board with it.

"Legalization of recreational cannabis continues to be popular amongst Marylanders," said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College. "We know both the presiding officers of the Senate as well as the House are in support of moving forward with legalization of recreational cannabis."

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Support for legalization fell along party lines with 65% of Democrats in favor of it and 30% against it, compared to 41% of Republicans in support of it and 48% opposed.

As for independents, 63% support it and 35% oppose it.

Interestingly, participants who identified as conservative were split down the middle with 47% in support and 47% in opposition. Meanwhile, 85% of self-described progressives favor legalization.

Political affiliations and ideologies aside, the results indicate most Maryland residents support legalization, no matter their age, education, geography, gender, and race.

While two bills that would legalize recreational marijuana were not taken up in the Maryland General Assembly's 2021 session, leaders of both chambers have expressed an interest advancing legislation in 2022, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

One selling point for lawmakers is the financial impact of legalization. State Sen. Brian Feldman said previously the taxation of legalized marijuana could generate an estimated $300 million in revenue for the state's coffers.

Olivia Naugle, a legislative analyst for the MPP, pointed out that Maryland's residents have expressed support for legalization year after year. Moreover, she said, 68% of Americans support it.

"This is creating hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue in other states," Naugle said. "And Maryland has the same opportunity to benefit from the economic boost of legalizing cannabis."

It was a mixed bag when WJZ spoke with Towson residents Tuesday about the poll's findings.

"Personally, I would say no, because I don't smoke," said Saafir Raab.

Ethan Jones said the state should "absolutely" legalize recreational marijuana, saying a law change was "long overdue."

"If the black market is going to make money, why wouldn't you want the state to use it for all kinds of things?" Jones said. "Because it'll bring in a ton of money and jobs."

The Goucher College poll of 700 Maryland residents was conducted by phone from Oct. 14 to Oct. 20. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

What do you think?

Where do you stand on legalizing recreational marijuana in Maryland?

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