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Poll: 66 percent of Illinoisans support legalization of “recreational marijuana”

Monday, Mar 27, 2017

* Simon Institute

Large majorities of Illinois voters support marijuana decriminalization and legalization for recreational use, according to the results of the latest poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The Simon Poll was conducted Saturday, March 4th to Saturday, March 11th. The sample included 1,000 randomly selected registered voters and a margin for error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. Sixty percent of the interviews were with respondents on cell phones.

Three-quarters, 74 percent, of voters support or strongly support decriminalization of marijuana where people in possession of small amounts for personal consumption would not be prosecuted but may be fined. One in five voters, 21 percent, oppose or strongly oppose decriminalization and 5 percent answered otherwise. In 2016, Governor Rauner signed a law decriminalizing up to 10 grams of marijuana. Under the new law people caught with up to 10 grams can face fines of $100 to $200 and potential municipal penalties instead of facing a class B misdemeanor and potentially six months in jail and $1,500 in fines.

Support is also strong for legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Two-thirds of voters, 66 percent, support or strongly support legalization of recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol. A notable 45 percent of voters support legalization strongly. Only 31 percent of voters oppose or strongly oppose and 3 percent answered otherwise.

“Illinois voters are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of decriminalizing marijuana,” said Jak Tichenor, interim director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, “and we now have evidence that most see it as a potential revenue source for the state.” A March, 2016 Simon Poll showed 51 percent opposed recreational use of marijuana while 45 percent approved. When coupled with the idea of regulating and taxing it like alcohol, this year’s poll showed a 21 percent increase in the number of people who approve recreational use.

Decriminalization by Region. In Chicago, 80 percent of voters support or strongly support decriminalization statistically the same as their neighbors in suburban Cook and the collar counties who support or strongly support at 79 percent. In the rural regions outside Cook and the collar counties, 63 percent of voters supported or strongly supported decriminalization.

Opposition or strong opposition by voters in Chicago is 16 percent, in suburban Cook and collar counties is 17 percent, and 31 percent outside Cook and the collar counties.

Decriminalization by Political Party. Among Democrats, Republicans and independents, Democrats support is strongest with 81 percent stating they support or strongly support decriminalization. Only 15 percent of Democrats oppose or strongly oppose decriminalization and 4 percent answered otherwise. Independent voters followed Democrats with 76 percent of independents supporting or strongly supporting decriminalization and 17 percent opposing or strongly opposing. Two-thirds, 66 percent, of Republicans support or strongly support decriminalization and 30 percent oppose or strongly oppose.

Decriminalization by Age Group. Illinois voters younger than 35-years-old show the most approval with 83 percent supporting or strong supporting decriminalization. Fifteen percent are opposed. Voters thirty-five to fifty-years-old support or strongly support at 81 percent, and oppose or strongly oppose at 15 percent. Three-quarters, 77 percent, of fifty-one to sixty-five- year-old voters support or strongly support decriminalization. One in five, 19 percent, oppose or strongly oppose. Two-thirds, 67 percent, of baby boomers and the greatest generation sixty-six and older support or strongly support decriminalization while 28 oppose or strongly oppose.

“These data show that virtually all Illinoisans have opinions on cannabis decriminalization and legalization. Few people seem indifferent on these issues,” said Delio Calzolari, associate director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and one of the designers of the poll. “A vast majority appear to philosophically agree with decriminalization like the steps taken last year, although the definition of decriminalization and amounts in question are debatable. There is also overwhelming support for new cannabis public policy for recreational use shown.”

Recreational Legalization by Region. In Chicago, 74 percent of voters support or strongly support legalization of marijuana for recreational use if taxed and regulated like alcohol. In suburban Cook and the collar counties support or strong support is 70 percent. In the rural Illinois outside Cook and the collar counties, 54 percent of voters supported or strongly supported legalization. Opposition or strong opposition by voters in Chicago is 22 percent, suburban Cook and collar counties is 27 percent, and 43 percent outside Cook and the collar counties.

Recreational Legalization by Political Party. Among Democrats, Republicans and independents, Democrats support is strongest among the three groups with 76 percent stating they support or strongly support recreational legalization if taxed and regulated like alcohol. Only 21 percent of Democrats oppose or strongly oppose recreational legalization and 3 percent answered otherwise. Independent voters followed Democrats with 68 percent of independents supporting or strongly supporting recreational use and 27 percent opposing or strongly opposing. A slight majority of Republicans, 52 percent, support or strongly support legalization while 46 percent oppose.

Recreational Legalization by Age Group. Illinois voters younger than 35-years-old show the most favorability to legalization of recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol. Four in five, 83 percent, support or strongly support the proposition. This percentage is identical to the same support for decriminalization. Seventeen percent are opposed. Voters thirty-five to fifty-years-old support or strongly support at 77 percent, and oppose or strongly oppose at 22 percent. Among fifty-one to sixty-five-year-old voters 69 percent support or strongly support legalization and 28 percent oppose or strongly oppose. Baby boomers and the greatest generation sixty-six-years-old and older are split on the issue with 51 percent stating they support or strongly support legalization of recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol and 45 percent stating they oppose or strongly oppose.

* The legalization question

Do you support or oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol?

    Total Support 66.1%
    Strongly support 45.3%
    Support 20.8%

    Total Oppose 30.8%
    Oppose 18.6%
    Strongly oppose 12.2%

    Don’t know/Refused 3.1%

More info here.

…Adding… Crosstabs are here.

* Related…

* Illinois considers legalizing marijuana for a fiscal boost

- Posted by Rich Miller        

56 Comments
  1. - Robert the Bruce - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:12 am:

    Hurry up and legalize it already! We’d also get a few years of tax capture from residents of neighboring states before their legislatures wise up.


  2. - Homer J. Quinn - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:13 am:

    it could be 110% support and the governor would still say “NO! because reasons.”


  3. - OkComputer - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:16 am:

    Is Illinois 2016 a Nader 2000 voter?


  4. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:17 am:

    But what will the Governor’s rich Denver friends think? /snark


  5. - Amalia - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:17 am:

    YES! legalize it now. tax away. plus think of the increase in sales of munchies!


  6. - Anon - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:21 am:

    “Mike Madigan, and the public opinions he controls.”


  7. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:23 am:

    This is great news. I very much support responsible legalization for adult use–so many upsides. I believe Pawar supports legalization of recreational marijuana. Since two legalization bills exist and will be pushed next year, it behooves Democratc gubernatorial candidates to support legalization.

    Rauner said something stupid and out of touch about legalization in Colorado, that his friends told him it’s terrible. He has no clue about legalization. He gets high on union-busting. Democrats should hit him on this issue.


  8. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:34 am:

    As far as the plan for distributing proceeds goes,it does appear there is intent to send some proceeds to prevention and treatment of substance abuse programs.

    However, any funds generated need to be treated as supplementing existing funding not replacing what GRF funds are now used. Treatment and prevention programs have been gutted in recent years and need funds.


  9. - Just Observing - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:35 am:

    How is legalization still a debate? It should have been legalized 20 years ago.


  10. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:40 am:

    Far out man. Can’t happen soon enough.


  11. - blue dog dem - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:41 am:

    Put this on the general election ballot in 2018 and Rauner loses by 4% to anybody. Except MJM.


  12. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:42 am:

    Decriminalization is dumb. Legalize and normalize it. The only reason marijuana is a “gateway” drug is because it’s illegal & “taboo.”


  13. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:43 am:

    I hate to break it to everybody but this poll is inaccurate. Rauner’s “Colorado Buddies” weren’t asked their opinion in this poll.


  14. - LessAnon? - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:45 am:

    As long as it’s not allowed in public. Don’t mind cigarette, pipe or cigar smoke from neighbors, but pot smoke wafting over my deck from a neighbor while I’m trying to enjoy a steak or other meal would annoy me to no end.


  15. - A guy - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:46 am:

    Exponentially increase use for Medical Marijuana first. After that, you’ll go from 66% to 75%+. Then, there’s no stopping it.


  16. - A Jack - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:48 am:

    Legalization is still a debate because of prevailing beliefs in public school taught myths about marijuana. In many rural schools smoking pot was a one way ticket to hell in a hand basket.


  17. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 9:56 am:

    I wonder if enough Democratic GA members will vote yes on this issue. This to me is a very strong issue, especially because of the state’s fiscal and economic problems, and loss of population. It could be great also for local government coffers.

    The governor doesn’t want to expand MMJ to cover more medical conditions. I believe Illinois politicians should support and push for expansion of MMJ.

    It could be a deal-breaker for me, if a Democratic gubernatorial candidate doesn’t support it. I would love to volunteer to help a legalization movement that has a realistic chance at success.


  18. - Homer J. Quinn - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:01 am:

    definitely a dealbreaker for me. i will never vote for another candidate who doesn’t support legalization.


  19. - Aldyth - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:09 am:

    Getting in between human beings and the things they find intoxicating never works. Prohibition taught us that lesson a long time ago. Legalize it, tax it to the hilt.


  20. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:11 am:

    While I don’t disagree with the concept generally, until the folks in DC follow suit and reclassify marijuana to make it legal, legalizing it here is going to (ironically) create a lot of headaches. There are still many instances where Federal Law trumps the State in terms of licensing, etc., that is going to lead to a lot of confusion.


  21. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:13 am:

    It would be nice if the Simon Institute asked about income when asking this question. Then we’d really know whether or not there is a path for legalization.


  22. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:15 am:

    PC, check the xtabs.


  23. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:22 am:

    Wow. Looking at the cross-tabs was very interesting. Rich people favor legalization more than poor people. Private sector workers prefer it over government employees and unemployed…


  24. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:28 am:

    Illinois citizens, who cares what they think? Some of my wine club friends in Denver say it’s bad news.

    And they’re smart, like me, because they can afford to spend big money on wine.


  25. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    Is anyone going to read this email to MJM so we don’t have to wait another 35 years for him to catch up with the times?


  26. - Anon - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    “We ain’t legalizin’ that stuff here. My friends told me it’s bad… BAD!”


  27. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    Isn’t there a pending to-do in Colorado about reclassifying rec-mar to med-mar in a hurry if necessary, literally taking batches of the evil weed in warehouses and remarking them? It has something to do with a perception that the Feds are coming in to exercise their “rights” under Federal law. Anyone else hear this or has AA been hitting the bong too hard?


  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:52 am:

    “Let’s light up and just move along.”


  29. - Saluki - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    Just because the public supports it, does not mean it’s a good idea.


  30. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:04 am:

    “Just because the public supports it, does not mean it’s a good idea.”

    True, but the terrible and foolish consequences of the War on Drugs does mean it’s a relatively good idea.

    – MrJM


  31. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    ===Just because the public supports it, does not mean it’s a good idea.===

    Oh, like term limits?


  32. - Just Sayin' - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    MrJM: Its not just the consequences relating to the war on drugs that this goes to. It also goes to whether we want to allow another toxin unrestricted access into our homes with children. So, unlike the majority of positives comments here, legalization is not a no-brainer. Medical marijuana is a different matter.


  33. - BK Bro - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    Until DC reclassifies (or declassifies) the scheduling of marijuana, Illinois is going to end up in the same awkward legal situation that Colorado and California find themselves in. Cash and bitcoin only shops, a separate insurance system, armored cars and guards, etc.

    DEA currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Right alongside heroin and LSD.


  34. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    ===It also goes to whether we want to allow another toxin unrestricted access into our homes with children.===

    What’s toxic about pot brownies/candy?


  35. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    You can still not allow it in your home. Some would argue once it’s legal it’s easier to regulate and monitor. I know it was easier to get pot in high school than alcohol. Drug dealers don’t ask for ID.


  36. - Sir Reel - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    Time to break out “Reefer Madness” to show these folks how terrible Marijuana is.

    Let’s see how the “smaller government” Republicans react.


  37. - Homer J. Quinn - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:50 am:

    just sayin’: how is medical a “different matter?” it’s the same plant used for the same reasons. the only difference is the name.


  38. - walker - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    We should legalize, and restrict purchase and usage, as we do with alcohol and tobacco.

    Trump and Sessions, apparently are going the other direction, in their renewed “war on crime.” Rauner might feel obliged to go along with them, and veto.


  39. - Just Sayin' - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    Homer J. Quinn: Med marijuana is a different matter for the same reason we allow Prozax, Xanax, and Oxycodone to be prescribed but not “legalized”. If it could help someone medically is a whole different story than if it should be used recreationally. Especially when this drug is often smoked (hence directly impacting others and children in the vicinity), where most prescription drugs are not smoked.


  40. - Cheryl44 - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    Think of the children! Legalize it so it’s harder for the kids to get their hands on it.


  41. - Signal and Noise - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 12:44 pm:

    Old white rural Republicans are above the 50% mark on this. The only thing in the way is our actual government.


  42. - A guy - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    Make it sugarly, legalize it, then double tax it. /s


  43. - A Jack - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 1:04 pm:

    According to the BBC, Canada is introducing legislation to legalize marijuana nationwide by 2018. We will make a lot of Wisconsin gas station owners happy if we don’t legalize it in Illinois.


  44. - Panther - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 1:09 pm:

    No bank/supermarket will want to take cash that smells of pot. Money maker yes. Obstacles need to be cleared first.


  45. - Mama - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 1:19 pm:

    Decriminalization and legalization of marijuana for medical usage for all ages. Plus recreational use for adults 21 years old or older is a win/win for IL. It would be the best way to increase the much needed revenues without raising taxes.


  46. - Anon - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 3:06 pm:

    “Both prohibition and commercialization have unwanted consequences. Cannabis Use Disorder is a real and rising problem. We have policy choices available that could eliminate the arrests without allowing the marketing effort…But the trend is toward alcohol-style legalization, inevitably with alcohol style outcomes.”
    ~ Professor Mark A. Kleiman, co-author of Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know.


  47. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    The naïveté by some anti-legalization folks is stunning. Marijuana is safer than alcohol and not as damaging to health as tobacco. Marijuana is everywhere. We can’t stop it. We lost the fight a very long time ago and possibly since the beginning. There is no point any longer in not legalizing it. There are billions of dollars in the long run that can be circulated through the legal economy.

    We need tax revenue. We need sales revenue and economic growth. We need our judicial system and law enforcement system to be freer to arrest and try serious crimes. We need less or no incarcerations for low-level drug crimes. We need freedom for responsible adult users, so they’re not punished for something less dangerous than alcohol.


  48. - Mama - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 3:46 pm:

    We should talk to people in CO and WA states. We should ask their legislature for the pros and cons of total legalization of Marijuana in their states. Find out what works and what doesn’t work and go from there.


  49. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 3:57 pm:

    Legalize it and tax it. If you want to increase revenue beyond that increase taxes on junk food. Place it in stores next to the Twinkies. Watch the revenue roll in.


  50. - a drop in - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 4:04 pm:

    A non-user who supports legalization: after legalization, a lot of folks are going to be surprised they can be fired for m-jane use.


  51. - Biker - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 5:56 pm:

    I would imagine he’s the first, but not the last gubernatorial candidate to come out pro legalization, but the media for some reason hasn’t picked up on how big a deal Pawar’s position for legalization of Marijuana is (I would post an article instead of his fundraising appeal but I can’t find one, weird!): https://act.myngp.com/Forms/6092618154644081152


  52. - @MisterJayEm - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 7:35 pm:

    “It also goes to whether we want to allow another toxin unrestricted access into our homes with children.”

    If there’s have a problem with bad things having unrestricted access into your home, I suggest closing the door.

    – MrJM


  53. - frisbee - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 8:22 pm:

    Recreational cannabis will hurt the law enforcement and pharma industries more than it will hurt the alcohol industry. The biger issue is how much hemp would hurt Big Ag and ADM is not going to go quietly on thaf issue. The drug testing industry can survive but their days will be numbered if the feds ever reschedule.


  54. - Odysseus - Monday, Mar 27, 17 @ 8:59 pm:

    “after legalization, a lot of folks are going to be surprised they can be fired for m-jane use.”

    We can fix that problem too, with the law or without it. I know if I were a venture capitalist, literally the first requirement I would have would be for businesses I own to stop wasting money on drug testing.


  55. - Rabid - Tuesday, Mar 28, 17 @ 5:52 am:

    Genesis 1:29 “I have given you every seed bearing herb,which upon the whole face of the earth”


  56. - Rabid - Tuesday, Mar 28, 17 @ 6:02 am:

    Drug testing is for the insurance company to denie your claim and lay blame.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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