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Published: Monday, 2/24/2014 - Updated: 4 months ago

Majority of Ohioans support legalization of medical marijuana, poll finds

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS -- Eighty-seven percent of Ohio voters support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, but support drops off to 51 percent when it comes to possessing a small amount for recreational use, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll released today.

It remains unclear whether varying proposed ballot issues to legalize medical marijuana and industrial hemp will make it to Ohio's ballot as initiatives have in other states like Colorado.

“Ohioans narrowly favor legalizing pot for personal use with women opposed while men support the idea," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Almost nine in 10 in both genders think marijuana should be legal for medical uses.

"No one should be surprised that support for legalization is strongest among younger voters,” he said.

The same poll showed that 50 percent support same-sex marriage just a decade after Ohio voters approved a constitutional ban refusing to recognize such marriages here. Forty-four percent oppose gay marriage.

A current effort to put a new question on the ballot to overturn the ban is trying to qualify for the Nov. 4 general election ballot, even as disagreement continues in the gay community as to whether enough has changed yet in Ohio to try it now.

“Given that younger voters support same sex marriage almost 3-1, it would seem to be just a matter of time,” Mr. Brown said.

In the meantime, gay rights activists have succeeded to some extent in using the courts to whittle away at Ohio's ban. A recent federal court ruling required gay spouses to be recognized on death certificates. Another case pending in the same court asks for the marriages to be recognized on birth certificates.

Meanwhile, registered voters questioned between Feb. 12 and Feb. 17 said they disapprove with how Republican Gov. John Kasich has handled the issue of abortion. Twenty-six percent approve while 34 percent disapprove.

But 40 percent said they don't have an opinion on the subject. That raises the question of how effective an effort by Mr. Kasich's leading Democratic opponent, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, to demonstrate that the governor and fellow Republicans have waged a war on women will be.

Just 18 percent of voters approve of how Mr. Kasich has handled the issue compared to 34 percent of men.

Last year's budget passed by Republicans and signed by Mr. Kasich included a variety of abortion-restriction measures. The budget mandated that abortion clinics must have emergency care agreements in place with hospitals while simultaneously forbidding hospitals that receive public funding from entering into them.

Thirty-four percent of those questioned said abortion should be legal in Ohio in most cases. Twenty-seven percent said it should be illegal in most cases.

At the two extremes,19 percent said it should be legal in all cases and 14 percent said it should be illegal in all cases.

The poll of 1,370 registered voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.



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