Survey: Minnesotans want medical marijuana but split on full legalization

Survey: Minnesotans want medical marijuana but split on full legalization
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A new St. Cloud State University survey shows that the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans favor legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

More than three-fourths of people interviewed in late October -- 76 percent -- answered yes to the question, "Would you support or oppose making marijuana legally available for doctors to prescribe?"

At the time the survey was conducted, 45 percent of Minnesotans said at some point in their life they had smoked the herb.

SEE ALSO: Mark Dayton still not inclined to sign medical marijuana bill

Political affiliation played a role in the results. The highest support for medical marijuana came from self-described Libertarians (90 percent) followed by Democrats (86 percent) and Republicans (62 percent).

That means Gov. Mark Dayton is in disagreement with almost his entire party. While running for election, he made a promise to law enforcement to veto any marijuana bill that doesn't have their support.

Expect the survey to become a talking point during the upcoming medical marijuana debate that resumes in February when legislators return to work. Dr. Stephen Frank, who headed the survey, says a student from California suggested the topic last spring and the sociology, political science and statistics departments signed on board.

The timing could not be better for reformers -- people like Heather Azzi, political director of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care.

"It's continuing trends we've already seen," she says, "and a lot of it relies on common sense."

Earlier this year, Public Policy Polling released a study showing that 65 percent of Minnesotans would like to see the law changed to allow folks with serious and terminal illnesses to use medical marijuana if their doctors recommends it.

Full legalization of marijuana is a different story. The new St. Cloud study shows that adults in Minnesota are split on whether to legalize it for recreational purposes. When asked, "Do you think marijuana should be made legal or not?" 46 percent of people said yes and 48 percent said no.

The findings also suggest that Minnesotans are less likely than other Americans to support legalization. A 2013 Gallup poll indicated that 58 percent of Americans were on board. That number was only 12 percent in 1969.

Follow Jesse Marx on Twitter @marxjesse or send tips to [email protected]

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