|Photo: Des Moines Register|
|Almost two-thirds of Iowans believe medical marijuana patients shouldn’t be arrested.|
A new Iowa poll shows that almost two-thirds of Iowans — 64 percent — think patients should be allowed to use marijuana as medicine if their doctors approve.
However, fewer than a third of Iowans want to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes, the same poll shows, reports the Des Moines Register.
Fourteen states in the U.S. have already legalized the medical use of marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation.
The Iowa Board of Pharmacy plans to decide Wednesday whether to recommend that the Iowa Legislature follow suit.
Medical marijuana supporters say that cannabis can relieve pain and nausea for many patients suffering from debilitating diseases, including cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis.
Only 28 percent of Iowans favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and 70 percent oppose that idea.
|Rodney White/Des Moines Register|
|George McMahon, 59, is one of only two Iowans who can legally use marijuana for medical purposes under a federal program that stopped accepting new patients in 1992. He’s urging Iowa authorities to legalize marijuana for patients whose doctors approve.|
Ann O’Brien, 75, of Dubuque said she supports letting patients use marijuana to treat medical problems. She also said she has no major problem with letting Americans use it for recreational reasons.
“You know, I don’t smoke marijuana — never have,” she said. “But I don’t think people should go to jail for smoking it. I don’t think it’s worse than booze.”
O’Brien, a nurse who works for a Catholic church, said she believes some patients could be helped by smoking marijuana, especially for pain associated with such diseases as cancer.
“I just don’t know where the harm is in it, especially for someone who is terminal,” she said.
Only 11 percent if Iowans 65 and older think cannabis should be legalized for recreation. Support is stronger among younger poll participants. Forty percent of adults younger than 35 say they support general legalization of the herb.
There is less of a generational divide on the medical marijuana question. Among seniors, 52 percent favor legalizing cannabis for such purposes. Support is 67 percent among adults younger than 35.
Support for medical marijuana is at 76 percent among Democrats, 47 percent among Republicans, and 66 percent among independents, the poll shows.
Support for general legalization is 36 percent among Democrats, 14 percent among Republicans and 31 percent among independents.
Support for relaxing marijuana laws is stronger nationally than in Iowa, another recent poll found. The ABC News/Washington Post poll, released last month, found 81 percent of Americans support allowing marijuana use for medical purposes, and 46 percent are in favor of legalizing small amounts for personal recreational use.
Federal law prohibits physicians from formally prescribing marijuana (it’s officially a Schedule I substance, with “no accepted medical value,” according to the federal government), but doctors may write notes saying the recommend a patient’s use of it in the 14 states where it is legal for medical use.