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Americans strongly oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws, few approve of Jeff Sessions: new Quinnipiac poll

Voters overwhelmingly oppose enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized medical or recreation marijuana, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

By a margin of 70 – 23 percent, voters oppose enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana, according to the poll. The number opposing is essentially unchanged from a year ago, but down five percentage points from August 2017.

Among 18-34 year-olds only 17 percent are in favor of federal enforcement, with 78 percent opposing. African Americans oppose enforcement by a margin of 79 – 18 percent. No sub-group polled supports enforcing federal laws, with Republicans opposing enforcement by 48-42 percent.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Jan. 5 – 9, 2018 — after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era Cole Memo, which set limits on federal enforcement in states that had legalized marijuana. It tallies responses from 1,106 self-identified registered voters across the nation.

Voters also have a 47 percent unfavorable opinion Sessions, who has a 14 percent approval rating, with 37 percent saying they haven’t heard enough about him to form an opinion. That’s down from 22 percent in October 2017 and 27 percent in August 2017. Even among Republicans, the attorney general’s approval rating is only 24 percent, with 22 percent unfavorable, and 50 percent saying they haven’t heard enough.

Medical marijuana continues to have high support, with 91 percent of Americans supporting “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes if their doctor prescribes it.” This number is down three percentage points from the last poll to ask this question in August 2017, when an all-time high of 94 percent of respondents said they supported medical marijuana , and down two points since February 2017.

Adult-use marijuana support dropped three percentage points as well, with 58 percent agreeing that “the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States,” down from 61 percent in August 2017, and 59 percent in February 2017.

These declines are within the margin of error, which is +/- 3.6 percentage points. And numbers are in line with the latest Pew Poll released earlier this week, which showed 61 percent of Americans surveyed saying they support legalization, a 4-percentage-point increase from last year’s poll.

Younger voters are more likely to support legalization: among 18 to 34 year-olds polled, 79 percent feel marijuana use should be made legal. In other party, gender, education, age and racial group break-outs, most support legalization with a few exceptions: Republicans are opposed 62 – 33 percent, voters over 65 years old are opposed 50 – 41 percent, and Hispanic voters are divided 48 – 48 percent.

“The demographics say pot is here to stay, either for fun or to provide medical comfort,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “And the message to Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Hands off.”