Big numbers bolster case for General Assembly to finally pass comprehensive medical marijuana legislation
A new poll shows broad, overwhelming support for a bill that would make Maryland the 16th state to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The survey informed voters of a bill pending in the legislature that would allow patients with multiple sclerosis, cancer, debilitating pain, and other serious conditions to use marijuana with their doctors’ approval. When asked if they supported the bill, 72% said yes, with just 21% opposed and 7% undecided.
“I’m certainly pleased by the poll, but frankly, these numbers don’t surprise me,” said the bill’s sponsor, Del. Dan Morhaim, the only licensed physician in the General Assembly. “There’s a strong consensus among medical and scientific professionals that marijuana can relieve the suffering of those with certain serious illnesses, and there’s nothing controversial about relieving suffering. That’s what this bill is about.”
Details of the poll showed strong support for medical marijuana across all age, partisan, and geographic lines. Older voters were very supportive of the proposal: 77% among 50-64 year olds and 69% among those 65 and older. Democrats were more likely to support the bill, but Republican support was still very strong at more than 2:1. And voters favored the legislation throughout the state, with even 62% of those in conservative, western Maryland in support.
A similar bill was passed in the Senate last year, 35-12, but stalled in the House. A key question this year is whether House Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Vallario will allow committee members to vote on the proposal. The bill would need to be approved by his committee before it could head to the House floor where it would almost certainly be approved.
“I asked my doctor about this and she said marijuana can help me, so I certainly hope he supports the bill,” said Chris Idol, a Cumberland resident with a rare movement disorder. “But regardless, all I really ask is that he give patients the fair up-or-down vote we deserve.”
The Judiciary Committee, along with the Health and Government Operations Committee, has scheduled a hearing for Monday, February 28 at 1:00 p.m. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear the bill on Thursday, March 3.
The poll, conducted February 18-20 by Public Policy Polling, surveyed 1,076 registered voters and is available for download at http://www.mpp.org/states/maryland/2011-poll.html
With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.