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The Blue & Gray Press | February 21, 2018

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Survey reveals high support for medical marijuana in Va.

BY CATE STACKHOUSE

A Virginia survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) and sponsored by the University of Mary Washington surveyed Virginia residents on whether they believed medical marijuana should be legalized.

The survey results showed that majority of Virginia residents support the legalization.

“Of the 1,001 state residents surveyed Sept. 25-29, 71 percent said that the use of medical marijuana with a prescription should be legalized, with 23 percent believing that it should remain illegal and the rest were unsure,” according to a UMW press release by Marty Morrison, director of media and public relations.

“Just over half (53 percent) of voters 65 years of age and older favored legalization of medical marijuana, compared to 71 percent in the 45-54 age group, 73 percent in the 30-44 age group, and 84 percent in the 18-30 age group,” according to the press release.

Currently, Virginia has not taken any steps to legalize medical marijuana, whereas other states, including Washington and California, recently passed laws to legalize non-medical marijuana usage.

“Age demographics contributed to the results for medical marijuana legalization. Younger voters are more willing to see federal legalization. More than half of the senior citizens interviewed support it,” said Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

Freshman Beatrice Ohene-Okae expressed her surprise at the percentage of residents who supported legalization of medical marijuana.

“There are a lot of conservatives in Virginia, so the 71 percent is unexpected,” said Ohene-Okae.

The survey also asked whether people approve or disapprove of the way Gov. Bob McDonnell is handling the job.

“The good news for the governor is that he has relatively high approval ratings. The majority of people still approve of him despite the scandal,” said Farnsworth. “Part of this has to do with the major transportation bill he shepherded through, and people consider transportation to be a major problem in the state.”

The survey also questioned people on whether there should be a one-year increase in the normal retirement age from 67 to 68 to help reduce the budget deficit, if they believed the economy got worse over the past year, whether the state should recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples who are married in a state where gay marriage is legal and who they favor in the upcoming Virginia election for governor.

Farnsworth said that the composition of the Commonwealth of Virginia is changing due to the amount of people moving into the state.

“Movement in Virginia can be attributed to economic opportunity; and people in the military and federal workers living in the area because of proximity to D.C.,” said Farnsworth. “People also come here for higher education and stay.

Farnsworth noted the population change in Virginia as a contributing factor to its status as a swing state.

“The state has become less conservative,” said Farnsworth. “Virginia went from republican in presidential elections to one of the most sought after swing states in the past few years.”