Poll: 84% support physician-prescribed medical marijuana

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 68 views 

While Arkansas voters are not for completely legalizing marijuana, they are overwhelmingly supportive of a restrictive usage of marijuana for medical purposes, according to a new Talk Business & Politics/Hendrix College/Impact Management Group survey.

In the latest poll of 400 Arkansas registered voters conducted on Aug. 20-23, 2015, 84% said they agreed with legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

Do you agree or disagree that adults should be allowed to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if a physician prescribes it?
56% Strongly Agree (84% Agree)
28% Somewhat Agree
3% Somewhat Disagree (14% Disagree)
11% Strongly Disagree
2% Don’t Know

“These numbers show overwhelming support for the basic concept of physician-prescribed, medical marijuana. However, the numbers change significantly when you ask voters about unlimited legal uses of marijuana or the ability to grow small amounts,” said Roby Brock, Editor-in-Chief of Talk Business & Politics.

Do you agree or disagree that adults should be allowed to grow small amounts of marijuana for medical use?
27% Strongly Agree (44% Agree)
17% Somewhat Agree
12% Somewhat Disagree (51% Disagree)
39% Strongly Disagree
5% Don’t Know

Do you think the use of marijuana should be legal or illegal?
42% Legal
51% Illegal
7% Don’t Know/No Opinion

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, and Clint Reed, partner with Impact Management Group, helped create and analyze the poll. They offered the following analysis:

Barth: In the Arkansas November 2012 general election, a major surprise was the fact that Arkansas’s voters came close to making Arkansas the first southern state to legalize medical marijuana. The result was surprising because pre-election surveys had shown voters’ opposition to the measure. (Indeed, showing evidence of a “Bradley effect,” even a post-election survey indicated much wider opposition to the measure than on election day.)

This current survey of Arkansas adults shows that the popularity of the concept of medical marijuana continues to grow three years after that close vote. An amazing 84% of Arkansas adults either “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that adults should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes if prescribed by a physician. This suggests that a return to the ballot of a medical marijuana measure would likely meet a different fate than the 2012 measure.

There is one caveat to this conclusion: the possibility of patients being allowed to “grow their own” marijuana — a provision included in the 2012 proposal — remains concerning to Arkansas voters with a slight majority opposing that provision. Different versions of the medical marijuana legalization initiatives have either included or excluded such a provision. It continues to appear that it would matter in shaping the outcome, though the movement on the issue is extraordinary.

It appears that the next debate in Arkansas may be about the recreational use of marijuana. While a majority of Arkansas voters continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana, the trajectory also seems positive for that concept. Most important is an examination of different subsets of Arkansas voters by age. Just over two-thirds (68%) of the state’s youngest voters support marijuana legalization while the same percentage of the state’s voters 65 and older oppose it. Thus, with every passing day, sentiment towards legalization grows.

Other interesting demographic patterns show themselves on the recreational use of marijuana with a gender gap showing itself (45% of men and 38% of women favor legalization), pluralities of urban and suburban voters support legalization while 55% of rural voters oppose it, and strong Republican identifiers overwhelmingly oppose legalization while all other partisan groups are split. All told, the data suggests that a well-crafted recreational marijuana proposal might well have a shot with Arkansas’s voters in the coming election cycles and a medical marijuana proposal will be more thoroughly welcomed by an electorate that has concerns about marijuana’s addictive nature but sees it as less dangerous than either tobacco or alcohol.

Reed: Overall, voters have made up their mind on the legality of marijuana. There is not a lot of indifference as only 8% of Arkansas voters have no opinion on whether it should be either legal or illegal.

As one might imagine, the difference in self-identified ideology paints a pretty clear picture of those who believe marijuana should be legal as opposed to those who believe it should be illegal. Within this, 63% of ‘very liberal’ voters believe it should be legal; whereas, 76% of ’very conservative’ voters believe it should be illegal. In addition, voters less than 30 years of age believe it should be legal (68%) as opposed to voters over the age of 65 believe it should be illegal (68%). The ideology gap and age gap should not be a surprise to anyone.

When those voters are asked to explain why marijuana should be legal, the most common word mentioned in the verbatim responses is ‘medical’. On the other hand, when voters are asked to explain why marijuana should be illegal, the most common word used is ‘drug’. The ‘medical’ wording really seemed to jump out when voters were asked to provide reasoning.

There is clear support for medical marijuana if a physician prescribes it. This is pretty straight-forward wording and voters responded very positively to it. In fact, 84% of voters ‘agree’ – 56% ‘strongly agree’ – that adults should be allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes if approved by a doctor. This has clear support across almost all demographics – including liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

Voters do, however, draw a line on whether someone can grow their own amounts of marijuana for medical purposes — when asked this way, support crumbles especially among ‘conservatives,’ ‘independents,’ and ‘Republicans’ as all groups ‘disagree’ with this approach. 51% of voters disagree that Arkansans should be allowed to grow their own marijuana for medical purposes.

This survey of 400 live callers was conducted from August 20-23, 2015 statewide in Arkansas. The poll has a margin of error of +/-4.99%. Roughly 67% of voters were reached by landline and 33% were cell phone users.

The poll was weighted equally among Congressional Districts (25% each) and the gender breakdown was weighted to include 52% female and 48% male. Additional demographics include:
Party Affiliation
31% Republican
33% Independent
30% Democrat
6% Don’t Know/Refuse

10% Under 30
21% 30-44
41% 45-64
28% 65+