Support for Pot Growing in Swing States

Quinnipiac has released a new poll showing that support for legalized marijuana is growing in key swing states, which could make things interesting in a number of ways. Here’s what the Q poll says:

With noticeable gender gaps, voters in Florida and Ohio back legalization of marijuana for personal use – so-called “recreational marijuana” – while Pennsylvania voters are divided, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll released today.

In each state, men support legalized marijuana for personal use more than women, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. The Swing State Poll focuses on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania because since 1960 no candidate has won the presidential race without taking at least two of these three states. By overwhelming margins, voters in each state support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. On this question, there is no gender gap.

Also in each state, most voters say they would not use marijuana if personal use were legalized.

The marijuana fight has been a very long and drawn out one, and politically speaking, it is one of the most divisive while simultaneously being one of the lowest issues on almost everyone’s list. In a world where foreign affairs are going to hell and domestic policy is once again debating gun control and abortion, legalizing marijuana put off to the side.

The reason this is so notable is because this comes from that Quinnipiac swing state poll I referenced earlier. I don’t expect legalizing marijuana to suddenly become a major movement in the next year or so, but I do expect that folks like Chris Christie, folks who are on Team Keep Marijuana Illegal, could lose some support in those states if they take a very hard line against the drug. That’s not to say [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] is going to get a huge uptick in support in Pennsylvania if he takes the strong legalization route, but it could hurt Christie.

The issue itself is probably best saved for a rainy day. We have lots of policy to get through between now and the swearing in of a Republican president in 2017, but there is no reason to think that we can’t have that talk as early as 2017. In the meantime, states can work on policies that ease penalties for possession and similar crimes in an effort to bide our time until having that debate makes sense.