By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The majority of surveyed Wyomingites would support legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a study conducted by the University of Wyoming.
According to a new survey by the Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center, 54% of the 614 people questioned support allowing adults in the state to legally possess marijuana for personal use.
This marks a steady increase in support observed over six years. In 2014, only 37% supported marijuana legalization. In 2016, 41% supported it. In 2018, 49% supported it.
There is a clear pattern showing that younger Wyomingites support marijuana legalization and that support declines as the ages of those questioned increase.
A majority of 18- to 24-year-olds, 67%, support legalization, as do a majority of those age 25 to 34 (74%), 35- to 44-year-olds (68%) and 55- to 64-year-olds (51%). Support for legalization falls below a majority of those aged 45-55 (45%), 65-74 (40%) and 75-older (30%).
According to Rodney Wambeam, a senior research scientist at WYSAC, the support for recreational marijuana use reflects a decrease in the perceived risk or harm related to the drug.
“Despite the increasing dangers of marijuana use, such as addiction or drugged driving, young people in particular seem to view marijuana as a safe and natural alternative to alcohol or other illicit drugs,” Wambeam said.
A large majority (85%) of those questioned said they support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes if a doctor prescribes it. This has remained steady from 2018, when 86% reported that they support medical marijuana legalization.
Three-quarters of those questioned believe that people convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana should not serve time in jail. This has increased from 69% in 2018 and from 66% in 2014.
“As laws regarding the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana change around the U.S., especially in nearby states, it’s not surprising to see attitudes in Wyoming change as well,” Brian Harnisch, senior research scientist at WYSAC, said. “In all bordering states except Idaho, marijuana or medical marijuana has been legalized to some extent or decriminalized.”
The statewide survey was conducted Oct. 8-29, yielding 614 responses from randomly selected Wyoming citizens. The margin of error for the distribution of responses on any individual survey question is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Men and women from all age groups are represented, and all counties in Wyoming are proportionally represented in the survey sample.