A majority of Iowans support marijuana legalization while more than three-quarters in favor of expanding the state’s medical cannabis program, according to a new poll.
The survey, reported by Des Moines Register/ Mediacom Iowa Poll, revealed 54 percent of respondents support legalizing cannabis for adult-use, with only 39 percent opposed and the remaining unsure. This is around the same level of support reported last year by the same pollsters when a majority of Iowans favored legalizing marijuana for the first time. But it still marks a drastic turnaround in just eight years. In 2013, only 29 percent of Iowans supported the measure, with 68 percent against.
The latest poll also suggests voter support for extending Iowa’s medical cannabis laws is holding steady, with 78 percent of respondents in favor of expanding access to cover more diseases and illnesses. Only 14 percent said doing so was a bad idea. Iowa’s medical marijuana program is currently limited in scope, with patients restricted to non-smokable products to treat specific conditions such as chronic pain, seizures and cancer. Launched in 2018, Iowa’s medical cannabis program comprises only five dispensaries across the state serving around 5,000 registered patients with tightly regulated creams, tinctures, capsules and vape liquid. Two years ago, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds refused to sign a bill into law that would expand medical marijuana access in the state.
One of the survey respondents, Brian Neises, thinks the state government could make good use of cannabis tax dollars without fearing an increase in crime.
“I don’t recall seeing any crime sprees or major busts or people abusing it. They make a zillion dollars off cigarettes, and a zillion dollars off alcohol taxes,” he said. “It seems like it could pay for a lot of roads.”
While support for recreational marijuana legalization is increasingly bipartisan, in Iowa political affiliation still strongly suggests whether a person is in favor or against the measure. 71 percent of Iowa Democrats support legalizing marijuana for adult-use while 64 percent of Iowa Republicans are against doing so. Regarding expanded access to medical marijuana, support is more closely aligned, with Democrats at 88 percent and Republicans at 61 percent.
Like many other polls on cannabis legalization, younger people tend to support the move more than older people. In Iowa, 71 percent of adults under 35 are in favor compared to just 40 percent of those over the age of 55.
The poll was carried out by Selzer & Co. between March 7-10, 2021, and comprised telephone interviews with 775 adult Iowans selected to reflect the state’s general demographic.