Poll shows increase in approval of medical marijuana among Illinoisans


By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

Voters in Illinois are giving the green light to medical marijuana, according to a poll conducted last week by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

The poll shows 82 percent of voters support medicinal marijuana, though more than half — 51 percent — disapprove of using it recreationally.

“Medical use, recreational use and decriminalization are all related but are still distinct public policy issues in the minds of many voters,” David Yepsen, director of the institute, said in a press release Monday. “They are likely to be issues in the debate over criminal justice reform, new revenues and public health.”


The data from the study shows opinions on recreational use differ mostly based on age.

Ninety percent of surveyed voters under the age of 35 support medicinal use and 72 percent of the same demographic think the drug should be legalized for recreational use. Comparatively, 79 percent of voters age 65 and up approve of using marijuana to treat illnesses but a mere 29 percent think it should be used recreationally.

“These data show that substantial support for medical cannabis can be found in every demographic and that support has substantially increased in the last few years,” said Delio Calzolari, associate director of the institute, who helped design the poll. 

MORE: SIU student Barry Banks on medical marijuana

Approval of medical marijuana has increased by 19 percentage points since a similar poll was conducted in 2013, which showed 63 percent support and 32 percent opposition. Since then, the state launched a pilot program allowing dispensaries to set up shop and sell to card-holders who suffer from specified illnesses.

But only 4,000 patients have signed up to participate in the four-year program — a fraction of the originally estimated 30,000 eligible.

Investors in the field have expressed disappointment in the lack of receptiveness among Illinois patients. 


Dispensary owners and marijuana advocacy groups have called on Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to expand the program and allow more patients with other conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, to apply. The governor declined last month a bid from the state’s medical cannabis advisory board to add eight more conditions as eligible for medicinal marijuana treatment.

The data was collected by telephone and is based on a sample of 1,000 voters across the state. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Bill Lukitsch can be contacted at [email protected] or 618-536-3329.