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Poll: 60 percent support cannabis legalization, just 35 percent oppose

Monday, May 20, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’d really like to see Think Big spend some money on district-by-district polling, but here you go…

Today, Think Big Illinois released a new poll showing that marijuana legalization enjoys broad support from Illinoisans across the state. When asked whether marijuana should be legalized, taxed, and regulated just like alcohol, 60% support it, with 35% opposing. Support spans across the state – 60% in the city of Chicago, 68% in suburban Cook County, 60% in the Collar counties, and 54% Downstate.

“As discussions in Springfield continue surrounding marijuana legalization, it’s clear that Illinoisans are strongly in favor of legalization,” said Quentin Fulks, Executive Director of Think Big Illinois. “Legalization would help end the era of mass incarceration, while creating much-needed revenue for our state. Legislators should do what Illinoisans are calling for and enact this commonsense measure to make Illinois a more safe, just, and equal place for all our residents.”

* From the polling memo

• Six out of ten voters support legalizing recreational marijuana, taxing it and regulating it (60% support vs. 35% oppose). Notably, a plurality of voters strongly supports legalizing marijuana (41% strongly support, 19% somewhat support, 7% somewhat oppose, 27% strongly oppose and 6% don’t know).

    o What voters heard: Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana, taxing it, and regulating it just like alcohol? [IF SUPPORT/OPPOSE] Is that strongly or somewhat?

• Legalizing recreational marijuana enjoys broad support across the state.

    o City of Chicago: 60% support vs. 33% oppose
    o Cook County Suburbs outside Chicago: 68% support vs. 26% oppose
    o Collar Counties: 60% support vs. 37%oppose
    o Downstate: 54% support vs. 40% oppose

• Our findings are consistent with the recent independent Simon poll. Statewide, 66% of respondents favored or strongly favored legalization, while 32% opposed it, the Simon Institute poll found.

Interesting that support is stronger in the Cook County suburbs than in the city.

I take some issue with the question because the proposal on the table doesn’t regulate cannabis like alcohol. There is no three-tiered system (brewer, distributor, retailer), for example, and home grow is now imperiled.

Also, remember that it’s almost always unwise to directly compare one pollster’s results to another’s. The best practice is to average the results.

* Methodology

Global Strategy Group conducted a statewide telephone survey between April 29, 2019 and May 1 among 802 Illinois registered voters. The survey had a margin of error of +/-3.5%. Care has been taken to ensure the geographic and demographic divisions of the population of registered voters are properly represented.


  1. - ArchPundit - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 12:14 pm:

    I wonder if the wiping out of past convictions as part of the package would increase city support–they may have asked that, but it isn’t clear from the memo.

  2. - LetsLegalizeIt - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 12:39 pm:

    Doesn’t surprise me at all that Cook county supports it more than the city. I’ve met a lot of 420-friendly people in the northwest suburbs.

    In any case, this clearly shows that the articles from the Chicago Sun Times and Herald that claim that legalization support is down are blatant lies meant to manipulate the narrative. It’s disappointing to receive such clear evidence that two major news outlets in your state are clearly biased.

  3. - Anonymous - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    Just how many people are being held in prison(or even jail) for these soon to be legalized offenses? How big a dent in the “era of mass incarceration” would this reform make? Rich points out opponents rhetorical excesses, but someone has answers about the mass incarceration impact claims. While important to those in custody, I bet you couldn’t fill a bus load of folks releasable under this bill. But ending the era of mass incarceration sounds as persuasive on one side as the increases in youth usage does in the other. Facts are in convenient, unless they can be ignored.

  4. - nice things - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 2:25 pm:

    I bet even more than 60% support legalization. I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem comes up when you talk to people about implementation. Do they support a marijuana store down the block from them or in their neighborhood or town.

  5. - I MIss Bentohs - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    Now ask if people should be able to grow it at home and you will see that many of us that support it only care about the word taxing when you say:
    legalizing recreational marijuana, taxing it, and regulating it just like alcohol

  6. - Illinois Resident - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 3:01 pm:

    -Do they support a marijuana store down the block from them or in their neighborhood or town.-

    Yes, if you are for it you have to buy it somewhere. Stores are pretty sophisticated these days.

  7. - Ho-Flo - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 4:39 pm:

    As a resident of Homewood, a south suburb of Chicago my observations is that the medical dispensary has been an excellent business and neighbor in the community. They set up booths at the farmers market for outreach and education, and they operate discreetly within the confines of the medical law. I don’t know why some municipalities are afraid of dispensaries; its little different than operating a liquor store, of which these oppositional neighborhoods probably already have several.

  8. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 4:46 pm:

    ==I bet you couldn’t fill a bus load of folks releasable under this bill.==

    I doubt the number of people expunged is a dealbreaker for people who want recreational marijuana legal.
    It would be nice for the people involved ( and their families).

  9. - trueallday - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 5:01 pm:

    Police are frightened at losing a significant element of their power. Traffic stops leading to marijuana discovery in legal pat downs will go out the window. A principle way of intimidating people of color driving ‘where they’re not supposed to be’.

  10. - Jocko - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 6:27 pm:

    ==Do they support a marijuana store down the block from them or in their neighborhood or town.==

    They might if it increased their property value.

  11. - {Sigh} - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 4:12 am:

    There is a difference in supporting an issue vs supporting a proposal as drafted. Not sure the same %’s would support SB 7. The bill needs a lot of work before May 31st.

  12. - XonXoff - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 8:25 am:

    – There is a difference in supporting an issue vs supporting a proposal as drafted. Not sure the same %’s would support SB 7. –

    That’s a good point. If they were legalizing, taxing and regulating cannabis “just like” alcohol, it would be easy and apparently what most want. For the over-21 crowd, homegrow would be included, like home brewing and winemaking. Making high THC extracts/concentrates would be the equivalent of distilling high alcohol content spirits and not included (in Illinois). You could fill the trunk of your car with cannabis flower and drive around with no legal worries. You could serve or gift your over-21 friends cannabis with no legal worries. Taxes would be a lot lower and the license to sell it in your store would be $1500 or so. You could also sit in a neighborhood pub or a baseball stadium and enjoy cannabis with friends and then just get in your car and drive away.

    It’s never going to happen like that with a Governor and legislators in the middle, IMHO.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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