The vast majority of Kentuckians support the legalization of marijuana, according to a new poll from two non-profit foundations.

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact For Health conducted phone interviews with 1,559 adults across the state between October and December 2019. The results have just been unveiled and they suggest 90% support for the legalization of medical marijuana, up from 78% when a similar survey was conducted in 2012.

A further 49% of Kentuckians polled said they favour the legalization of recreational cannabis use. That is a significant increase upon the 26% that favoured it in 2012.

As of January 2020, 33 states have legalized medical marijuana and 11 have legalized recreational marijuana, while the District of Columbia also permits adult and medical use. However, it remains illegal for all purposes in Kentucky.

Yet there appears to be strong support for legalization across the political spectrum. The survey revealed that 95% of Democrats support legalization of medical marijuana, along with 92% of independents and 90% of Republicans.

The divide was starker when it came to recreational use. Three in five Kentuckians that identify as Democrats support adult-use legalization, compared to 54% of independents and 38% of Republicans.

Four in 10 respondents said they have a friend of family member that regularly uses marijuana.

The Kentucky General Assembly kicked off its 2020 legislative session last month and advocates hope medical marijuana legalization efforts gather momentum. Last year a medical marijuana legalization bill passed out of a House committee for the first time, but it was never brought to the floor for a final vote as there was not enough time left in the legislative session.

Efforts will resume this year. Forty-four of the state’s 100 representatives have sponsored HB 136, and around a third of Kentucky’s senators have sponsored companion bill SB 107.

Gov. Andy Beshear is in favour of legalization. He said it will help to ease suffering among patients and bring in extra revenue for the state.

At the end of December, State Rep. Cluster Howard pre-filed a bill that seeks to legalize recreational marijuana use in Kentucky. The bill would empower the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control agency to oversee licensing for cultivation, processing, testing, and retailing adult-use cannabis, while allowing residents pay $250 for a permit that would allow them to grow up to five mature plants and have five immature plants in their homes.

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