More Northern Virginians support legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults than in any other region in the state, according to a new statewide survey by the University of Mary Washington.
The survey showed that 65% of those polled in Northern Virginia support legalizing pot for adults. The region of the state showing the lowest support -- Northwest Virginia – still had a majority, or 52%, backing legalization.
Statewide, the survey reported that 61% of Virginians support legalization and 34% are opposed. The rest were uncertain. The survey, conducted by Research America Inc. for the University of Mary Washington, polled 1,009 Virginia adults between Sept. 3 and Sept. 15 with a margin of error of 3.1%, according to a news release.
A majority of voters in all five regions of the state support legalization, according to the survey.
The results show a sharp increase from a 2017 UMW survey, in which 39% of respondents favored legalizing pot for personal use.
“The latest Mary Washington survey demonstrates – to quote Bob Dylan, ‘the times they are a-changin’ – here in the Old Dominion,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of its Center for Leadership and Media Studies.
Roughly three-quarters (72%) of Democratic respondents in the Virginia survey favored legalization, compared to 62% of independents and 41% of Republicans. Two-thirds (66%) of African Americans support legalization, as do 58% of whites and 72% of Latinos.
Legalization was unpopular among Virginians 65 years of age and older, generating 36% support. A majority of all other age groups support legalization, including 80% of those respondents under the age of 25.
Possession of marijuana is illegal under federal law throughout the U.S., even though about a dozen states and the District of Columbia have reversed state laws that prohibited marijuana for recreational use.
Some states, like Virginia, have granted permission for some producers to begin selling medical cannabis products for certain medical conditions. Five medical marijuana facilities are slated toopen in Virginia at the end of 2019, including one in Manassas,following the passage of state laws allowing doctors to issue medical cannabis “certifications” to patients in need.
Three bills that would have decriminalized marijuana and two that would have legalized its recreational use were killed by a majority Republican subcommittee in the Virginia House of Delegates earlier this year. All three Democrats on the subcommittee voted for decriminalization, and two of the three voted to legalize it.