Legalization More Popular Than Biden in Maryland

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A higher percentage of Maryland voters support legalizing cannabis than approve the job performance of President Joe Biden, according to a new poll out this week. 

The findings, which come via the latest Goucher College Poll, could offer meaningful insight on both local and national politics, with a legalization referendum potentially heading to the Maryland ballot this November, and a White House that has shown reluctance to get behind a policy that has wide support among its base of Democratic voters.

Sixty-two percent of voters in Maryland say they support legalizing cannabis for recreational use, according to the survey, while 34 percent said they were opposed. 

The party breakdown of the findings suggests what advocates have long argued: support for ending prohibition is bipartisan. Sixty-five percent of Democrats and independents said they are in favor of legalization, while 54 percent of Maryland Republicans said the same. 

Lawmakers in Maryland have taken up legislation that would send a proposal to legalize recreational pot for adults aged 21 and older to the state’s ballot this year. Last month, the Democratic-controlled state House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill to bring the measure before voters in November. It is now being considered by the state Senate. 

The Baltimore Sun reported last month that the state’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, “has not taken a position on legalizing recreational marijuana.” Hogan has previously “said he would prefer a referendum to legislators acting directly, but wouldn’t say how he would vote on the issue,” according to the newspaper. However, there has still been no meaningful action. 

Biden, who hasn’t been any more eager to embrace legalization, finds himself in middling territory among Maryland voters, according to the Goucher College Poll.

Only 48 percent of voters there say they approve of the job Biden is doing as president, compared with 47 percent who say they disapprove. Last year, the poll found that 62 percent of Maryland voters approved of Biden’s job performance. 

Biden carried the state by more than 30 percentage points over Donald Trump in 2020, and the state has gone to the Democrats in every presidential election since 1988.

Taken together, the poll’s findings may point to a political lifeline for an embattled president and the Democratic party as it approaches what figures to be a difficult midterm election this year. Recent polling has shown a large enthusiasm gap between Democratic and Republican voters.

Biden and congressional Democrats took power amid a wave of optimism among cannabis reform advocates last year. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that his party was ready to fulfill the dream of ending prohibition on the federal level.

“We will move forward,” Schumer told Politico last April. “[Biden] said he’s studying the issue, so [I] obviously want to give him a little time to study it. I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will. But at some point, we’re going to move forward, period.”

“In 2018, I was the first member of the Democratic leadership to come out in support of ending the federal prohibition. I’m sure you ask, ‘Well what changed?’ Well, my thinking evolved. When a few of the early states—Oregon and Colorado—wanted to legalize, all the opponents talked about the parade of horribles: Crime would go up. Drug use would go up. Everything bad would happen,” the New York Democrat added. “The legalization of states worked out remarkably well. They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom. And people in those states seem very happy.”



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