Two-Thirds of Louisianians Support Legalizing Marijuana

LEGAL Colorado Marijuana Grow” by Brett Levin Photography is licensed under CC BY 2.0

According to a poll recently conducted by JMC, two-thirds of Louisianians support legalizing marijuana. The poll found that 67% of residents support marijuana’s legalization, which reflects a 13% jump from last year when they conducted a similar poll. 16% of respondents favored only legalizing medical marijuana, 8% favored keeping recreational and medical marijuana illegal, and 9% were undecided.

While this news may be shocking to some considering Louisiana’s conservative reputation, people who have kept an eye on the state’s recent progressive advancements in cannabis-related policies will not be surprised. 

The state’s 3 biggest cities, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport have all decriminalized marijuana, punishing individuals caught possessing small amounts of cannabis with fines and community service instead of jail time. 

Louisiana has also been developing its medical marijuana program, legalizing medical cannabis use in 2019 and then expanding the conditions marijuana can be prescribed for in 2020. Currently, any medical condition that a doctor “considers debilitating to an individual patient” that they think cannabis could help treat, can get residents a medical marijuana prescription. 

There are now 9 pharmacies licensed in the state to dispense medical marijuana. Unfortunately, these pharmacies can only dispense products like tinctures and oils with THC derived from marijuana plants- not actual marijuana. 

The JMC poll addressed this, asking respondents whether the marijuana plant, in addition to oil and tinctures, should be a permissible type of medical marijuana in Louisiana. Earning the strongest support of all the poll questions, 75% of respondents were in favor of medical patients having access to actual marijuana plants with 13% opposing and 12% being undecided. 

Another question that received strong support asked whether respondents were more likely to vote for a candidate that wants to reform Louisiana’s marijuana laws. 65% of respondents said they were more likely to, 17% said they were less likely to, and 19% said it made no difference to them. This information will hopefully inform candidates who want to actually represent their constituent’s beliefs and agendas. 

With each passing year, new information comes out about the benefits of marijuana, and more is revealed about the misinformation widely circulated to perpetuate the marijuana smear campaign launched by the disastrous war on drugs. It has become clear that marijuana is a valuable medicine, that can treat various debilitating conditions. Not to mention, it could be crucial in beating back the opioid epidemic.

This new information, along with the personal experiences of individuals and their friends, family members, and colleagues with medical and recreational marijuana, has reshaped public opinion on the drug, earning it widespread, bipartisan support. 

The poll found that 67% of Democrats, 58% of Republicans, and 81% of respondents with other political affiliations supported legalizing recreational and medical marijuana. Of the 42% of remaining Republican respondents, 24% said they would legalize medical marijuana, 11% said they would make both completely illegal, and 7% said they were undecided. These results mean that 82% of Louisianan Republicans were in favor of at least legalizing medical marijuana. 

Surprisingly, the one group that seems to be largely against marijuana’s legalization were respondents over the age of 65. Only 33% of respondents over 65 supported marijuana legalization, while 93% of people in the age range of 18-34, 78% of people in the age range of 35-54, and 65% of people in the age range of 55-64 supported marijuana legalization. This is frustrating to see, especially considering the fact that the average age of state legislators in the US is 56

Nevertheless, this poll, conducted by JMC on behalf of the Louisiana Association for Therapeutic Alternatives has revealed that public opinion on pot continues to improve, and because of that, so do the chances of legalizing it in the future. 

The poll was conducted from March 22 to March 23. 1,160 people registered as voters in Louisiana responded using either cell phones or landlines. The margin of error was 2.9 percent.

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