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Poll Shows Major Support for Medical Marijuana in Kentucky

A member of Kentucky?s state marijuana strike force cuts down marijuana in rural Breathitt County, Ky. (AP Photo)
A member of Kentucky?s state marijuana strike force cuts down marijuana in rural Breathitt County, Ky. (AP Photo)

A new poll shows 78 percent of Kentuckians support the legalization of medical marijuana, while others would be fine with widespread legalization.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll has conducted polling on a wide array of issues for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky over the past few months, from a statewide smoking ban to health insurance coverage.

Its latest poll  shows overwhelming support for medical marijuana in Kentucky. It also shows roughly one in four Kentuckians would be okay with legalizing pot even for recreational use.

Only 38 percent oppose legalizing marijuana for any reason at all.

Foundation CEO Susan Zepeda was surprised by the results.  She said marijuana still poses some health risks, even if it's used for medical purposes.

"You know lighting any organic matter and sucking it into your lungs is probably not the best thing for your health," Zepeda said. "So in part our concern would be about the way marijuana is delivered. The delivery system of smoking it."

Zepeda said she was also surprised by the split among proponents on what process to take in legalizing marijuana.  The poll showed 45 percent wanted Kentucky voters to approve such a change, while 23 percent wanted Congress to legalize it and another 23 percent wanted state legislators to change the law.

One state lawmaker, State Senator Perry Clark, has advocated for legalizing medical marijuana, filing a bill to do so the past two legislative sessions.   Clark's bill has yet to receive a hearing.

The poll was conducted last October and surveyed more than 1,500 Kentucky adults.

Kenny Colston is the Frankfort Bureau Chief for Kentucky Public Radio (a collaborative effort of public radio stations in Kentucky). Colston has covered Kentucky's Capitol and state government since 2010. He is a Louisville native, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky. When he's not tracking down stories about Kentucky politics, you can often find him watching college sports, particularly football.
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