Poll: public support for legalizing marijuana grows

58% of Marylanders support legalization
Goucher poll shows support for legalizing pot
Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 06:30:54-05

According to the new Goucher College poll, 58 percent of Marylanders support making pot legal.

That number is up by six points since 2015.

"There is clearly momentum for this and look, I am hoping we can put this on the ballot in front of Marylanders and take advantage of that poll," said Maryland Delegate from Baltimore City Curt Anderson.

Anderson says there are other signs legalizing marijuana is gaining traction in Maryland.

When he first sponsored such a bill a few years ago in Annapolis, Anderson basically stood alone but this year house bill 1185 and its senate counterpart has 40 co-sponsors.

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The end game is either a bill legalizing marijuana or a vote to get a 2018 state ballot question before the voters.

"I don't do this just to be a torch bearer or somebody waving a flag. I do this because I think it can make a difference in people's lives,” Anderson said. ”I do this because I think I can get it done this year."

It is a goal that has others on board as well.

"The legislators not only are seeing the incredible increase in popular support, but they are also seeing more and more data come out," said Kate Bell with the Marijuana Policy Project.

Bell says much of that data is from states that already legalized marijuana.

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A drop in incarceration rates, even a decrease in Medicaid costs for opioids are popular statistics but perhaps the biggest perceived benefit bringing more lawmakers into the marijuana tent is revenue generated by taxing and regulating the drug.

"$165 million from the licensing fees and the taxes alone, and that doesn't even count all of the other cost savings the state would get," Bell said.

But it is not all good news, at last Thursday's White House press briefing, there was an indication the new administration would take a step back from the progressive marijuana policies of the Obama Administration.

It is a move Anderson says could be problematic for states who are considering this or already implemented it.

"That would cause them pause and certainly in a state that hasn’t even passed it yet, could create some problems too."

There are two bills addressing marijuana legalization this year.

Delegate Anderson's legalization bill is set for a hearing on March 7.