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Poll Finds Support For Marijuana, Growing Approval Of General Assembly

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Rachel Baye
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WYPR

Marylanders are overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to the latest Goucher College Poll results released Tuesday. 

 

The poll also revealed that Gov. Larry Hogan’s approval ratings remain high, while the Maryland General Assembly received higher than usual marks, particularly among Black residents.

 

Public opinion on marijuana has shifted since the last time the poll asked about it a year and a half ago. In September 2019, 57% of Marylanders polled said they “support” or “strongly support” making marijuana legal for recreational use. Now, that number is 67%.

 

Poll director Mileah Kromer said the groups who support legalizing the drug have also shifted.

 

“Support has always been really strong among progressives and among Democrats and among young people,” said Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College. “But this is the first time that it's ticking up to 50% among conservatives and Republicans and older Marylanders.”

 

The poll also asked about respondents’ opinions of Gov. Larry Hogan and the state legislature, as well as the top issues facing the state. 

 

Of those polled, 48% said the COVID-19 pandemic is the most important issue facing the state. However, the data shows a partisan split, with more than half of Democrats and less than a third of Republicans taking that stance.

 

Hogan’s approval rating remains high, at 67%. This is fairly consistent with the governor’s approval rating in past polls.

 

However, he polls slightly better among Democrats than among Republicans, which Kromer said, “might be reflecting less of the job he's doing in the state and more of some of the comments Governor Hogan has made about former President Trump.”

 

The poll also reveals higher approval of the Maryland General Assembly than in previous years, with 48% of those polled saying they “approve” or “strongly approve” of the job the legislature is doing. By comparison, in February 2020, the legislature had a 41% approval rating.

 

Black residents are more likely than their white counterparts to give the legislature high marks. More than two-thirds of Black residents said they approve of the way the General Assembly is doing its job, compared with 40% of white residents. 

 

Legislative bodies, from the state level to Congress, typically get low marks in opinion polls, Kromer said.

 

She said she can’t be sure exactly what is driving the bump for the Maryland legislature, but she says House Speaker Adrienne Jones, the first Black person to lead the chamber, is likely at least partly responsible.

 

“Over the last year, she has pushed forward what she calls a ‘Black agenda’ for Maryland politics, discussing or forefronting racial justice issues,” Kromer said. “It is probably that that a lot of Black Marylanders are responding to, and at least paying attention to.”

 

The heavy focus on police reform in the legislature this year could also be a factor, Kromer said.

 

“We've asked about police reform in the past, and this is something that — there are some divisions among Black Marylanders and white Marylanders,” she said. “But Black Marylanders have been really supportive of these initiatives to reform police.”

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