The shift to support marijuana legalization has slowed across the country since Colorado legalized the drug at the beginning of 2014. That doesn’t mean marijuana supporters have simply moved to Colorado and stopped agitating for legalization. A recent poll in Delaware shows that the majority of citizens in that state support marijuana legalization.
A poll conducted by the University of Delaware’s Center for Political Communication (CPC) indicates that 56 percent of adults in Delaware are interested in seeing the state legalize marijuana, The Washington Post reports.
Only 39 percent oppose the measure. The demographic most likely to oppose legalization is the senior bracket, 60 years and older.
“The results show strong support in Delaware for legalizing marijuana,” CPC Associate Director Paul Brewer told The Washington Post by e-mail. “In all age groups except for those 60 years or older, a substantial majority favored legalization.”
The results from the CPC survey in Delaware track with national findings. A 2013 Gallup poll discovered that 58 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized, while only 39 percent argued that it should remain illegal, the exact same figure of opposition in Delaware.
“My secondhand impression is that there’s a division between state legislators who favor decriminalization vs. those who favor full legalization,” Brewer added. “The governor and likely next AG sound open to the former but not the latter at this point, so decriminalization seems more likely in the near future than legalization.”
The Marijuana Policy Project is active in Delaware, and is hoping for legislation to legalize marijuana in the next few years. The governor has expressed interest in continuing the conversation towards replacing criminal penalties with civil penalties, but does not support full legalization “without further studies and evidence of its consequences.”
Previous legalization bills in Delaware have so far been unsuccessful, owing to push back from Republicans, who constitute a minority in both chambers of Delaware’s General Assembly.
“I don’t believe we need to legalize marijuana,” said Republican State Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson earlier this year, in response to a legalization bill forwarded by Democratic Rep. Helene Keeley. “There was some merit, I thought, to marijuana for medical use for people that are sick. But as far as recreational marijuana, I just don’t think we need to go down that path right now. I think my caucus members would feel the same way.”
But for Rep. Keeley, marijuana legalization is another step in the evolution of society, comparing the fight for legal marijuana with same-sex marriage.
“So many people’s entry into the criminal justice system involves possession or use of very small amounts of marijuana,” added State Sen. Bryan Townsend, a Delaware Democrat and co-sponsor of the original bill with Rep. Keeley. ”There are very serious drugs, we need to treat people’s addictions and we need to penalize drug dealers. In my mind, marijuana is not in the same grouping as a lot of the drugs we need to be focusing our efforts on.”
The survey was conducted between September 10 and 22, with a sample size of 902 Delaware adults. Of that total, 769 were registered to vote. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.