PUBLIC EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
American Civil Liberties Union
National Headquarters 132 West 43rd Street New York, N.Y. 10036
(212) 944-9800 Ext. 408 Fax (212) 869-9065
Interested Persons FROM:
Loren Siegel DATE: November 27, 1995
RE: American Voters' Opinions on the Use and Legalization of Marijuana
for Medical Purposes
In January 1995, the American Civil Liberties Union embarked on study of the voting public's views about marijuana policy. The ACLU hired Belden & Russonello (B&R), a Washington, D.C.-based research and polling firm, and Doug Gould, a communications strategies consultant, to conduct the study.
In brief, B&R conducted four pre-survey focus groups in Dayton, Ohio (2) on February 16, 1995, and in Baltimore, Maryland (2) on February 28, 1995. The focus groups were followed by a national random digit dial survey by telephone, from March 31 through April 5,l995, among 1,001 registered voters. The sample was designed to represent all households in the nation, and the margin of sampling error for a sample of 1,001 is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
The findings that emerged from this work clearly demonstrate that a very substantial majority of the voting public supports a change in marijuana policy with respect to its medical uses. The key findings were as follows:
1. Legalization of marijuana for medical use is favored by a clear majority of American voters.
A very substantial majority of respondents (93%) has heard that marijuana had medical uses. Twenty-two percent know someone who has used marijuana for medicinal reasons. A series of questions were posed to test the public's views on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes:
Q. Do you think it would be a good idea or a bad idea to legalize marijuana to relieve pain and for other medical uses if prescribed by a doctor? VERY GOOD.............47%
Nadine Strossen President * Ira Glasser Executive Director * Kenneth B. Clark Chair, National Advisory Council * Richard Zacks Treasurer
Q. Thinking about medical uses of marijuana, would you favor or oppose making marijuana legally available for medical uses where it has been proven effective for treating a problem? STRONGLY FAVOR....64%
Q. Conclusive tests on the possible medical uses of marijuana have not been completed. Would you favor or oppose making marijuana legally available for medical uses, even though testing has not been complete? STRONGLY FAVOR....31%
Q. People who find that marijuana is effective for their medical needs, like treating glaucoma and relieving nausea from chemotherapy, should be able to use it legally.
2. Fewer than half the respondents thought the argument most often posed by opponents of medical marijuana was convincing, i.e. that legalizing marijuana for medical purposes would lead to more social use, and the largest group thought it was "very unconvincing":
Q. Is the following argument very convincing, somewhat convincing, somewhat
unconvincing or very unconvincing as a reason for keeping marijuana
> Legalizing marijuana for medical uses will make it too easy for other people to get it and abuse it. Very