03/03/2014 03:11 pm ET Updated Mar 03, 2014

Majority Of Pennsylvania Voters Support Legalizing Medical Marijuana, Gay Marriage: Poll

A growing majority of Pennsylvania voters support the legalization of medical marijuana and same-sex marriage but remain closely divided on the legalization of recreational pot, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

A statewide survey of 1,405 registered voters found that 85 percent of Pennsylvanians support the medical use of marijuana, a 3 percentage point increase from a similar poll conducted in May last year by Franklin & Marshall College.

Respondents were not as united on the legalization of recreational marijuana, however, with only 48 percent of voters approving the legalization of “small amounts of marijuana for personal use" and 49 percent opposing it.

Support for recreational marijuana legalization was highest among Democrats at 58 percent, followed by independents at 44 percent. Sixty-six percent of Republicans and 39 percent of Democrats opposed it.

"Pennsylvanians think overwhelmingly that marijuana is equal to or less dangerous than alcohol, and join the American trend toward tolerance for both medical and recreational use," Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a Quinnipiac University press release Monday.

The survey also found age to be a significant factor in the debate over marijuana legalization, with 64-34 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds supporting the change, and 66-29 percent of voters over the age of 65 opposing it.

In late February, a Pennsylvania bill called the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act became the first medical marijuana bill ever drafted with bipartisan support in the Senate.

Although the measure has garnered support from over a dozen sponsors on both sides of the aisle, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) has indicated that he would veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

"The governor is opposed to the legalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania," Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni told HuffPost in February, adding that Corbett may consider legalizing cannabidiol if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves it first.

In addition to overwhelming support for medical marijuana use, Pennsylvania voters also backed a law that would allow same-sex marriage by 57-37 percent, a three percentage point increase from a Franklin & Marshall poll in October 2013.

Democrats favored the proposal 74-22 percent while Republicans opposed marriage equality 59-36 percent. The majority of independents, 58 percent, also supported the change.

Gender also played a role in determining attitudes towards legalizing gay marriage, with more Pennsylvania women supporting it than men -- 60 and 53 percent respectively.

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted from Feb. 19 – 24 with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. Live interviewers called both land lines and cell phones.



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