Pennsylvanians want legal marijuana, a poll released Thursday by Franklin and Marshall College clearly shows. According to the survey, 59 percent, answered “yes” when asked if cannabis should be made legal.
This is a whopping 19-percent increase from the wehn this question was asked just last year. “Notice the evolution. It’s been a slow and inexorable growth in support during the past decade,” F&M Polling Director Terry Madonna told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “And it’s important, because Pennsylvania has had a history of being a relatively conservative state on social questions. Nobody has ever accused it of being on the cultural vanguard.”
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, who in March spoke out in favor of adult recreational legalization, was emboldened by the survey results. In comments to the Pittsburgh City Paper, he said:
“The public is ahead of the politicians on this issue. They know the way we are dealing with marijuana right now makes no sense. It is time to regulate and tax it. It will be better for the people of Pennsylvania. It will generate tax revenue, it will actually help create jobs, and it will save law enforcement time in trying to prosecute people who are not a threat to society.”
The poll clearly shows that reefer madness in the Keystone state is quickly evaporating. Only 31 percent of the nearly 400 Pennsylvanians surveyed say that it should remain illegal; 9 percent were undecided.
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When the question was first asked in the 2006 survey, only 22 percent supported legalized marijuana and 72 percent opposed it; 6 percent were on the fence.
Although the survey shows overwhelming support for the issue, Madonna does not believe there is a huge appetite among state politicians to act on the results.
“When you ask them what they think is most important problem, legalization of pot does not come up,” Madonna told the Inquirer. “It doesn’t have a lot of intensity. So there’s nothing driving lawmakers to legalize it.”
Patrick Nightingale, of Pittsburgh NORML, believes the survey is a beacon of hope. “People in Pennsylvania read the news, they see the shows, they see the progress in other parts of the country,” Nightingale said. “We need property-tax relief, our schools needs more funding, and we have a gigantic deficit in the state budget. They know recreational marijuana can help that.”