GOP voters strongly favor marijuana reform, poll finds

GOP voters strongly favor marijuana reform, poll finds
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The majority of Republican voters in the first caucus and primary states are voicing their support for a GOP presidential candidate who backs marijuana reform.

The new poll from the advocacy group Marijuana Majority finds that 67 percent of Republican voters in New Hampshire and 64 percent in Iowa want the next president to loosen federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

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The poll marks an emerging shift in opinion for Republicans voters, many of whom have traditionally favored strong drug laws.

The changes are reflected by the growing number of GOP politicians — from congressmen and senators to presidential candidates — who are getting behind marijuana reform.

While many states have moved to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, the federal government still prohibits its use. This has created a political paradox for pot dealers and users in these states.

The Obama administration has taken steps to ease the enforcement of marijuana laws in reform-minded states, but has yet to formally change federal policy. This has led to sporadic marijuana arrests in these states, pot advocates say.

“Since marijuana reform is so hugely popular with voters, taking these actions before he leaves office would be a serious legacy booster for the president,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

According to the poll, Republican voters believe the next president should do more to respect state marijuana laws without interfering.

An even higher percentage of Democrats and independents expressed the same opinion, according to the poll.

Overall, 71 percent of voters in Iowa and 73 percent of New Hampshire voters believe the federal government should stand down on marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized pot. 

Public Policy Polling conducted interviews with more than 2,300 potential voters in both states over the course of the August.