Poll: Virginia Voters Support Marijuana Reform, Medicaid Expansion Compromise

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New polling information by the Christopher Newport University's Wason Center shows Virginia voters are in favor of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

According to the center, this viewpoint is shared across demographic and partisan categories, however the lowest level of support is among Republicans.

Earlier this week, a bill allowing doctors in the commonwealth to use cannabis oil – which is derived from marijuana plants - was passed by the Virginia Senate.

The Wason Center also polled people about opioids, finding that most voters know someone who has taken an opioid painkiller. A majority of poll takers also support treatment rather than prison time for those who abuse the drugs without a prescription.

Pollsters found that Virginia voters are willing to compromise on expanding Medicaid: 58 percent of those polled are in supporting its expansion, while 56 percent supported growing the healthcare program.

According to the poll, support is stronger among women and black voters and weaker among men and southwest Virginia.

Republicans overall oppose expanding it - 66 percent - and Democrats support stands at 85 percent.

02/07/2018 Release from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University:

NEWPORT NEWS -- A new survey of Virginia voters by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University suggests that a compromise may be possible on expanding Virginians’ access to Medicaid, an issue that has vexed the General Assembly for five years.

“While a majority of voters support a full expansion of Medicaid, Republican voters oppose it, and Republicans are still in charge in the General Assembly,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center. “However, a partial expansion has the support of Republican voters, which may open a path to compromise this session.”

Here are some of the other findings in the Wason Center’s annual issues survey:

  • Virginians support decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, making it punishable by fines rather than jail.
  • Voters support raising the $7.25 minimum wage to $10.10 by 2020.
  • Two-thirds of voters know someone who has taken prescription opioid painkillers, and they support treatment rather than prison for opioid abusers.
  • Voters would prohibit sending or reading e-mails while driving, but they would not ban all cell phone use while driving. Texting is already illegal.
  • A majority of voters support amending Virginia’s Constitution to put a non-partisan commission in charge of drawing new political districts, rather than continue to allow members of the legislature to draw their own districts in the once-a-decade redistricting process.

The Wason Center conducted 870 interviews of registered Virginia voters, including 372 on landline and 498 on cell phone, Jan. 14-Feb. 4. The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3.6 percent.