- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Americans overwhelmingly support legalizing medical marijuana but are split regarding recreational use, a new poll reveals.

Eighty-three percent of Americans surveyed recently said that doctors should be able to prescribe marijuana to patients, according to the results of a Yahoo/Marist poll published Monday. Only 14 percent said they oppose legalizing medical marijuana, and 4 percent said they weren’t sure either way.

However, 49 percent of individuals surveyed said they support legalizing recreational marijuana, compared to 47 percent who said they disapprove.

Marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 narcotic under federal law, putting the plant in a category reserved for substance which have “have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and a high potential for abuse.”

Despite the Justice Department’s prohibition on pot, however, more than half the states in the country have passed laws in recent years allowing adults to consume cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, largely without opposition from the Obama administration.

Nonetheless, the future of legal marijuana programs in 28 states and the nation’s capital have been called into question following the inauguration this year of President Trump and his subsequent appointment of a decidedly anti-pot lawmaker, Jeff Sessions, as attorney general.

Federal law is “not eviscerated because the state ceases to enforce it in that state,” Mr. Sessions said at an event in Richmond last month, adding: “I think medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much.”

According to pollsters, nearly half of Americans think the Trump administration should take a more relaxed approach on medical marijuana than his predecessor, Barack Obama. Forty-seven percent of respondents said Mr. Trump should act “not as tough” as Mr. Obama on enforcing federal laws prohibiting medical marijuana, while 25 percent said the current White House should be “about as tough.” One in five, meanwhile, said Mr. Trump should be “tougher” on marijuana than his predecessor.

The results of Monday’s report stems from telephone interviews conducted last month with 1,122 adults, pollsters said.

Separately, the results of a national opinion surveyed partially funded by the federal government similarly concluded last month that the majority of Americans think marijuana use should be legal.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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