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Politics

Majority of Maryland residents support legalizing marijuana, poll shows

Voters in Maryland support legalizing recreational marijuana by a 2-to-1 margin, a new poll from Goucher College found, including majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents alike.

The finding largely confirms previous polls, which have shown steadily rising support for allowing the legal sale of the drug, and bodes well for a proposed referendum on legalizing recreational marijuana for adults that’s been backed by Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and other lawmakers in the General Assembly.

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Overall, 62% of voters polled support legalizing recreational marijuana, while only 34% oppose it. The proposal enjoys slightly higher support among Democrats and independents, both groups reported 62% for and 32% against. But the poll found that even 54% of Republican voters, a more conservative group that has historically been much more wary of loosening drug laws, now support legalization, while 44% oppose it.

The poll released Monday also found that a majority of Marylanders are feeling squeezed by rising prices, with 26% saying rising prices had caused minor hardships and another 30% saying costs had created a major hardship. But 43% of Marylanders said they hadn’t been impacted by rising prices.

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“Marylanders are definitely feeling an economic pinch,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, who oversees the poll. But Kromer added that “price increases have yet to dampen views of the state’s broader economic situation — the same as in October, though somewhat down from this time last year.”

Poll respondents’ overall view of the economy in Maryland remains largely positive at 52%, with 41% holding a mostly negative view. A third said they are personally worse off financially compared to a year ago, but two-thirds of respondents described their personal financial situation as being either “about the same” (48%) or “better” (19%).

The poll also found that Republican Gov. Larry Hogan continues to enjoy high across-the-board approval ratings, even among Democratic voters. Among Democrats, the poll found 61% approve of the second-term Republican governor and just 28% disapprove. Among independents, Hogan’s approval rating was higher at 69%, compared to 22% disapproval.

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Hogan continued to enjoy particularly strong support from Maryland Republicans despite his frequent clashes with former Republican President Donald J. Trump. According to the Goucher Poll, 71% of Maryland Republicans approve of Hogan while 23% disapprove of him.

Maryland voters take a more mixed view toward current President Joe Biden, a Democrat who carried the state with 65% of the vote in the 2020 election. Overall, 48% of Marylanders approve of Biden’s time in the White House (down from 62% in a similar Goucher poll last year), while 47% disapprove of his job (up from 31% last year).

A strong majority of Maryland Democrats still support Biden, 62% approval against 26% disapproval. But Biden’s ratings are underwater with independent voters as well as Republicans: 62% of independents disapprove of the job Biden is doing while 82% of Republican voters disapprove.

Most Marylanders (55%) said the state is headed in the right direction, while just 32% said it was on the wrong track. Asked about specific issues facing the state, a quarter of those polled said crime and public safety should be a top priority for government. Other issues getting attention from voters, according to the poll, include education (17%), economic issues and jobs (14%) and health care (11%).

When asked about one of the biggest questions facing state lawmakers — how to spend a multibillion-dollar budget surplus — voters were nearly evenly divided between putting more money into social services (50%) vs. cutting taxes (49%). Luckily, perhaps, for both groups of voters, politicians in the state are currently on track to do at least a bit of both during the General Assembly’s ongoing legislative session, which wraps up April 11.

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The Goucher College Poll surveyed 635 Maryland adults from March 1 to 6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points on the overall sample and 4 percentage points on the sample of registered voters.

Additional results are scheduled to be released Tuesday.


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