Marquette Poll: 61% of Wisconsinites want legal cannabis

By: - March 4, 2022 6:00 am
Marijuana cannabis store with open sign and tables , wall says I don't do drugs, I just smoke weed

Photo by Martijn Baudoin on Unsplash

Support for cannabis legalization in the Badger State is growing, according to the Marquette University Law School poll released this week. The poll found that 61% of the respondents favored legalization, with 31% opposed to ending the state prohibition. The survey found majority support among Republicans, with 51%, as well as independents (60%) and Democrats (75%).

Support among all three groups has increased “by 20 or more points”  over the last decade since  the poll began posing the question of Wisconsin voters, said Charles Franklin, director of Marquette University Law School Poll. The latest survey “is the first time we’ve seen a Republican majority in favor in this poll,” he said at a Milwaukee Press Club event Thursday.

In October 2013, 50% of all voters and 53% of Democrats  in the survey supported legalization. Meanwhile 51% of Republican respondents favored keeping  cannabis illegal in that survey; that dropped to 42% in the February 2022 poll. Among independents, support for legalized cannabis rose from 49% in 2013 and peaked at 68% in 2019 before declining to the current 60%. .

Franklin said support increases even more when the questions are phrased to focus on medicinal cannabis legalization, support goes up even more. What’s more, framing the question differently, such as asking whether cannabis should be regulated like alcohol, doesn’t seem to affect the responses from Wisconsinites.

Despite the majority support, movement to legalize cannabis in the legislature is non-existent. Wisconsin Republican elected officials have rejected attempts to legalize recreational use of cannabis. Some representatives, however, have introduced bills to either legalize forms of medical cannabis, or lower existing penalties for possession. Some activists pushing for reform have opted to organize for local penalties to be lowered or abolished, rather than expending energy at the state-level. The most recent bill discussed in the legislature related to cannabis involved raising penalties for possession of cannabis extracts made using butane.


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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.