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Wyoming Residents Disapprove of Personal Marijuana Use

December 3, 2014

Wyoming residents have mixed opinions on the use of marijuana, according to a recent University of Wyoming survey.

Thirty-five percent of survey respondents supported personal use of marijuana by adults and 60 percent opposed. At the same time, 72 percent of Wyoming residents support adult use of marijuana if prescribed by a physician, while only 25 percent oppose.

“We’ve seen referenda concerning personal marijuana use pass in Colorado, Washington state and elsewhere in recent years,” says Jim King, UW professor of political science and a co-director of the survey. “It appears that a similar movement in Wyoming would be unsuccessful.”

Survey responses concerning personal marijuana show a modest increase supporting personal marijuana use and consistency on the issue of medical marijuana use, King says.

“Our 2000 poll showed 23 percent approving legalization of marijuana in general, so, there has been a bit of a shift in public opinion on this aspect of the marijuana debate,” he says. “On the other hand, the 2000 and 2014 surveys have the same proportion of Wyoming residents, 72 percent, accepting medical marijuana use.”

Although Wyoming residents do not support legalization of marijuana for personal use, they accept reduced penalties for those apprehended in possession of marijuana. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, 62 percent, believe the penalty for marijuana possession should not include time in jail; 32 percent support jail sentences.

Citizens’ responses to the question of legalizing marijuana for either personal use or medical are linked to political ideology and age. Eight out of 10 self-identified conservatives oppose marijuana for personal use by adults, while two-thirds of liberals approved; moderates split evenly on this issue. On medical use of marijuana when prescribed by a physician, 61 percent of conservatives, 86 percent of moderates and 91 percent of liberals supported the policy.

Disapproval of legalizing personal marijuana use by adults increases with age. Roughly 55 percent of individuals under 45 years of age oppose the policy, with opposition reaching 82 percent of those over the age of 65. All age groups demonstrate support for medical marijuana use, although support is lowest (66 percent) among senior citizens.

The statewide telephone survey of 768 Wyoming residents was conducted in October by UW’s Survey Research Center and was sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Wyoming Public Radio and the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

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