More than half of Wisconsin residents want legal cannabis: poll

March 4, 2022

Support for cannabis legalization in Badger State is growing, according to the Marquette University Law School poll released this week. The poll found that 61% of those polled favored legalization, with 31% opposed to ending the state ban. The survey found majority support among Republicans, with 51%, as well as independents (60%) and Democrats (75%).

Support among the three groups has increased “by 20 points or more” in the past decade since the poll began asking Wisconsin voters the question, said Charles Franklin, director of the Wisconsin Law School poll. Marquette University. The latest poll “is the first time we’ve seen a Republican majority in favor of this poll,” he said at a Milwaukee Press Club event on Thursday.

In October 2013, 50% of all voters and 53% of Democrats in the survey supported legalization. Meanwhile, 51% of Republican respondents favored keeping cannabis illegal in this survey; which fell to 42% in the February 2022 poll. Among independents, support for legalized cannabis rose from 49% in 2013 and peaked at 68% in 2019 before declining to the current 60%.

Franklin said support increases even more when questions are framed to focus on legalizing medical cannabis, support increases even more. Also, phrasing the question differently, such as asking if cannabis should be regulated like alcohol, does not seem to affect Wisconsin residents’ responses.

Despite majority support, the movement to legalize cannabis within the legislature is non-existent. Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have rejected attempts to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. Some officials, however, have introduced bills either to legalize forms of medical cannabis or to lower existing penalties for possession. Some pro-reform activists have chosen to organize for local sanctions to be reduced or abolished, rather than expending energy at the state level. The most recent bill discussed in the Legislature regarding cannabis was to increase penalties for possession of cannabis extracts made from butane.

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