Majority of voters in Illinois support cannabis legalization

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(Photo from Pixabay)

(Photo from Pixabay)

CARBONDALE — A new poll has found that a large majority of Illinois voters are in favor of cannabis legalization and treating more like alcohol.

The poll from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found that 74% of voters support or strongly decriminalizing small amounts. Two-thirds, 66%, support full legalization, 45% strongly support it.

The poll was taken during the first week of March 2019.

“Illinois voters are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of decriminalizing marijuana and we now have evidence that most see it as a potential revenue source for the state,” Jak Tichenor, institute interim director, said in a press release. A March 2016 Simon Poll showed 51 percent opposed recreational use of marijuana while 45 percent approved. When coupled with the idea of regulating and taxing it like alcohol, this year’s poll showed a 21 percent increase in the number of people who approve recreational use.

Majorities were consistent statewide and by political party. Support for decriminalization was at 80% in Chicago and 63% in the more conservative rural areas. Even for legalization, 54% of rural voters were in favor. More than 75% of Democrats support full legalization as do 52% of Republicans.

“These data show that virtually all Illinoisans have opinions on cannabis decriminalization and legalization. Few people seem indifferent on these issues,” Delio Calzolari, associate institute director and one of the poll designers, said in the release. “A vast majority appears to philosophically agree with decriminalization like the steps taken last year, although the definition of decriminalization and amounts in question are debatable. There is also overwhelming support for new cannabis public policy for recreational use shown.”

Former Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law decriminalizing up to 10 grams of marijuana in 2016.

The sample included 1,000 randomly selected registered voters and a margin for error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Sixty percent of the interviews were with respondents on cellphones.

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