A growing number of North Carolinians support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, according to data from the Elon University Poll released this week.
The survey found 54 percent of respondents said they would support legalization for recreational use — up from 45 percent in the university’s 2017 poll.
“Opposition to recreational marijuana legalization fell substantially over the last three years,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and associate professor of political science. “I suspect this is due in large part to the wave of states that have passed legalization measures. Medical marijuana legalization remains broadly supported in every demographic group we examined.”
Last week the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation that would legalize marijuana, with a start date for retail sales in 2024. The move was made possible by the Democrats taking the majority in the General Assembly there in 2019. The House vote was party line, 55-42 with all Republicans opposing. Two Republicans in the state senate joined the 21 Democrats in supporting the legislation.
Support for medical use remained high in North Carolina according to the most recent Elon survey, with 73 percent supporting it. That’s actually down 8 points from the 2017 poll, but opposition has remained flat.
The poll also found significant support for reducing criminal penalties for possession, such as making it a civil penalty rather than a criminal offense. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they would support the change.
The poll also found that 63 percent of respondents do not believe marijuana use is morally wrong and 64 percent believe legalization would help the economy.
The survey was conducted by the Elon Poll in partnership with The Charlotte Observer, The Durham Herald-Sun and The Raleigh News & Observer. The survey of 1,455 adult North Carolina residents was conducted using an online opt-in sample marketplace and has a credibility interval of +/- 2.7 percentage points.
Read the full report and information about methodology here.