An overwhelming majority — or 9 out of 10 — Kentuckians want legal access to medical marijuana in their state, a new poll shows.
The poll, conducted by the non-profit organizations Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, randomly surveyed 1,559 adults by phone from October to December 2019. Ironically, both organizations actively support and promote smoke-free policies in the Bluegrass State.
The 90 percent figure suggests Kentucky residents have dramatically shifted their perspective on medical cannabis in less than a decade. A similar survey from 2012 found that 76 percent of Kentuckians supported medical weed just eight years ago. Support for recreational weed jumped between 2012 and 2019, as well, from 26 percent to 49 percent, according to the same surveys.
"Very seldom do you see any poll at 90 percent and here, in Kentucky, we're seeing 90 percent support for medical marijuana," Ben Chandler, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky’s CEO, told a local NBC News affiliate. "The jump was tremendous, and it doesn't really surprise me because, anecdotally, I've known in the last several years that there's been so much talk about it, and that public opinion has been shifting."
Medical weed may soon be coming to Kentucky, too. At the start of the 2020 legislative session, Rep. Jason Nemes (R-33rd District) filed a medical cannabis legalization bill. A previous filing attempt failed last year since it was submitted late, but Nemes anticipates his bill will finally get a vote this month.
"We're going to have our vote in committee on February 12th this time, which is early enough to get it through the House and through the Senate," Nemes said. "I feel very confident. I know the votes are there. If it gets a vote in the Senate, it'll pass."
Kentucky is one of nearly a dozen US states that still hasn’t legalized any form of marijuana. However, the state is one of the nation’s hottest hubs for hemp right now, which was legalized at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill.
The latest Kentucky poll responses also vibe with the national average: A 2017 Quinnipiac University poll showed that a whopping 94 percent of all Americans support medical marijuana legalization. If even the most conservative states are now changing their tune on cannabis reform, it’s just a matter of time before the federal government follows suit.