Several recent political polls have surveyed support and opposition to legalization of medical marijuana and indicated that Tennessee voters support some form of legalization. Now, a new Tennessee Star poll questioned how the issue may move votes.
Likely Tennessee November general election voters were asked: “Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports legalizing the distribution and sale of marijuana in Tennessee if limited to prescribed medical use only?” More than half – 55.4% – responded that they would be MORE likely to vote for a candidate who supports legalization of medical marijuana while only 19.5% were LESS likely to support a candidate favoring legalization of medical marijuana. Only 17.2% said it would make no difference and 7.8% indicated that they were “not sure or didn’t know.”
Tennessee Star political editor Steve Gill points out that while the legalization of medical marijuana may not be a top issue to most voters, the intensity of the issue to those to whom it is important should cause political leaders to pay attention. “Voters are rightly concerned that “medical marijuana” is merely a Trojan Horse means of moving towards legalization of “recreational” drug use, which Tennessee voters continue to overwhelmingly oppose,” Gill says.
“Others point out that they don’t have much confidence that the same medical doctors who have failed to control the abuse of opioid drugs will somehow properly monitor medical marijuana. But a carefully crafted bill that permits limited and REAL medical use of marijuana, particularly in the forms that severely restrict the THC levels that produce the ‘high’ that recreational users seek, could get broad support by voters and therefore legislators.”
The problem for those supporting actual medical marijuana legislation is that the powers and funding behind the efforts are largely coming from groups and individuals who want to secure legalization of recreational pot, Gill adds. “Proponents of recreational pot don’t really want a ‘win’ on the limited medical use by itself because that hampers the momentum for broader legalization,” Gill says, “so those who could benefit from the non-THC medical marijuana prescriptions are essentially being used as hostages by the recreational advocates and funders. Until the two are clearly separated for voters and legislators it is unlikely that quick progress will be made in passing medical marijuana legislation despite these poll numbers.”