In recent years, the landscape of support for marijuana legalization has dramatically changed. However, Kentucky is one of those more conservative states where the plant remains illegal, even for medicinal purposes. But, according to the recent 2019 Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP), in the last decade the state is seeing growing support in favor of legalization. For the first time, more than half of Kentuckians who were polled said they support any use of marijuana; almost everyone who participated in the survey said they supported the medicinal use of cannabis, and just under half supported recreational use.
“The shift in public opinion around marijuana policy is notable from KHIP 2012 to KHIP 2019,” Chubinski said. “However, it’s important to note that the policy landscape around marijuana has shifted considerably during that timeframe as well.
According to the results of the poll, 9 out of 10 people said they support medical marijuana use – which is up from almost 8 in 10 people back in 2012. More significantly, support for general marijuana use has risen from 38 percent in 2012 to a majority 59 percent in 2019, while support for recreational use has risen from 26 percent to 49 percent.
“Democrats were more likely than Republicans or independents to favor legalization under any circumstances or for recreational purposes,” said Jennifer Chubinski, Interact’s vice president of research and evaluation, in a statement.
The poll was conducted by the University of Cincinnati’s Institute for Policy Research and it surveyed 1,559 adults in Kentucky. The report was sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, and it came shortly after the 2019 Health Policy Conference, which had focused on the impact that reforming marijuana laws has on the general public.
The health conference cited the usual concerns from prohibitionists and conservatives – increased potency of the plant, uncertainty on how to ensure accurate dosage, preventing youth from using the plant, intoxicated driving and risk of accidental poisonings, among other things. As it stands now, reported teen use in Kentucky is down from 29 percent in 1997 to 16 percent in 2019. And it’s worth noting that according to the poll, 40 percent of Kentucky adults have a friend or family member who uses cannabis regularly – legal or not.
However, while officials may be concerned over all the usual things, other states have successfully implemented both medicinal and recreational legalization and citizens of the state clearly think Kentucky could as well. Whether or not lawmakers will take the opinion of their constituents into consideration and work to reform the laws surrounding cannabis in the state is something only time will tell. But, one thing is for certain, and that is the people of the state of Kentucky are ready to see it happen.