|“Hi, we’re in Delaware.”|
A University of Delaware poll released this week shows that 56 percent of Delawareans would support the legalizaiton and regulation of limited amounts of cannabis.
The poll, conducted on 902 adults in September, showed a meager 39 percent opposed marijuana – that group mostly populated by old conservative voters.
Researchers say the results show an overwhelming desire for legalized cannabis.
“I would say the numbers suggest solid support for fully legalizing marijuana in Delaware,” Paul Brewer, a professor at the University of Delaware who oversaw the poll. “The results also reflect what’s going on in public opinion at the national level, where the trends show a growing majority favoring legalization.”
But don’t expect legalization of any amounts to happen any time soon, at least not with Gov. Jack Markell in office. According to his office, he’s going to try and placate the electorate with a decriminalization bill.
“Since last year, the governor and his office have been talking with legislators and others about decriminalizing the possession of a small amount of marijuana and replacing criminal penalties with civil fines,” Kelly Bachman, Markell’s spokeswoman, told the News-Journal yesterday. “While the governor would not support full legalization at this time without further studies and evidence of its consequences, he expects to have more conversations about reducing the criminal penalties on small amounts of marijuana in the months to come.”
A bill that would have legalized simply the possession of up to an ounce of herb also failed to get support last year.
The figures break down along age and party lines. Conservative voters over 60 rejected legalization with only 39.2 percent in favor. Meanwhile, young liberals support the move by a whopping 73 percent.
Delaware state SEn. Bryan Townsend says that the legislature should pay heed to the poll results.
“The poll just shows there is broad support for this,” Townsend said. “I hope this is a wake-up call to the General Assembly that a majority of Delawareans support us moving in this direction. think we should be focusing on addiction. We should be focused on crime. We should be focused on community safety. Marijuana does not really seem to relate closely to any of those things.”
Currently, possession of an ounce or less in Delaware could result in a misdemeanor charge with up to six months in jail and $1,500 in fines. Medical cannabis is allowed in the state, and the first medical marijuana dispensary is set to open in early 2015.