With the Maryland General Assembly poised to consider legalizing the recreational use of marijuana next year, support for the reform has decreased slightly among Maryland residents, according to one poll.
About 60% of Marylanders support legalization, according to the latest Goucher Poll released early Tuesday morning. That’s slightly down from the last time the poll asked the question in March, when 67% of residents supported legalization.
In the most recent poll, which has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points and was conducted between Oct. 14 and Oct. 20, about 48% of registered Republican voters and 65% of registered Democrats approved of legalization.
When the question was last asked in March, a bare majority of Republicans polled — 50% — supported legalization for the first time.
The General Assembly could decide during the 2022 legislative session to send the question of legalization to the ballot. House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) has said she would support a referendum on the issue and convened a workgroup to envision how a legal cannabis industry would operate in the state. Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) has said the General Assembly should move forward with reform in 2022 without delay.
Support for legalization was strongest among white residents, 66%, compared to 53% among all other races.
The poll asked residents their views on a wide range of issues, including on abortion, the direction of the state and Maryland’s economic outlook, as well as the favorability of statewide elected officials and President Biden.
Lawmakers’ approval ratings
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) remained popular, with 68% of Marylanders approving of the job Hogan is doing as governor. Twenty-two percent disapproved.
The governor’s approval was up slightly from his 65% rate at the last Goucher Poll in March.
Despite outcries from conservatives who decried Hogan’s earlier strict COVID interventions, he had a relatively steady approval rating across ideology: 69% approval from Democrats, 66% from Republicans and 64% among unaffiliated voters.
The approval ratings of President Biden, on the other hand, showed a stark ideological gulf: an 80% approval rating among Democrats, compared to 8% among Republicans. About 43% of unaffiliated registered voters approved of Biden’s performance.
Overall, 53% of Marylanders approved of the way Biden is handling his job as president. That’s down from 62% last spring.
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D), who is up for reelection in 2022, tallied an approval rating of 44%. Twenty-six percent of residents disapproved and 29% said they didn’t know.
Senior U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) had an approval rating of 46%.
State’s direction and economic condition
Fifty-nine percent of those polled said Maryland is heading in the right direction, and 31% said the state is on the wrong track. More Marylanders in the D.C. suburbs — 73% — said the state was headed in the right direction, than other regions, where 52% of respondents agreed.
A majority of Marylanders, 53%, hold a mostly positive view of the Maryland economy, while 37% hold a mostly negative view. Sixty-two percent of Democrats had a mostly positive view of the economy, compared to 36% of Republicans. Sixty-five percent of residents with a college degree viewed the economy favorably, compared to 45% without a college degree.
Most Marylanders, 88%, want to keep abortion legal. But they are equally divided on whether that means legal in all cases (44%) or only under certain circumstances (44%).
Fifty-seven percent of Democrats said abortion should be legal under any circumstance, compared to 16% of Republicans.
Seventeen percent of Republicans said abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, compared to 7% of Democrats.
As state officials sharpen their focus on maintaining Maryland’s parkland — legislators have convened a commission to analyze the park system’s needs, while Hogan has established an Office of Outdoor Recreation — demand for state parks is expected to remain high.
Eighty-four percent of those polled said they were interested in visiting a state park within the next year.
And despite recent testimony about strains on the park system, a majority of residents, 59%, said they believed state parks are funded at the “right amount.” Twenty-seven percent of those polled said state parks receive too little funding; 6% said park funding was too high.
“There is a pretty clear disconnect” on the issue of park funding, said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College.
In other funding areas, 54% of those polled said public education receives too little; 47% said roads and highways receive too little, compared to 40% who thought public transportation should get more funding; and 47% said housing and community development gets too little funding.
Northern or southern?
Continuing a trend, the poll also included a question of popular opinion on a nonpolitical topic.
When asked if Maryland is more of a northern state or a southern state, 65% of Marylanders say it’s more of a northern state, while 27% say it’s more of a southern state.
The poll is set to release additional results on Wednesday.