Australians support use of marijuana for medical purposes

MORE than nine out of every 10 Australians (91%) believe the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes should be made legal, according to a special Roy Morgan telephone survey.

Only 7% of respondants to the survey - conducted last week with 644 Australians aged 14+ - are against legalisation and 2% can't say.

This is the first time Roy Morgan Research has asked specifically about the medicinal use of marijuana.

The landslide result comes from widespread support for the legalisation of medicinal marijuana among men and women, different age groups, states of residence and federal voting intention.

Analysis by age and gender

Asked the question, 'In your opinion should the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes be made legal or remain illegal?' a staggering 92% of women and 90% of men responded that yes, it should be made legal.

The strongest support for legalisation came from the 50-plus age group: 94% of Australians aged 50-64 and 94% of those aged 65 and older believe medicinal marijuana should be legalised.

Least likely to support the idea is the 14-24 year-old age bracket, but even so, an overwhelming majority (85%) are in favour.

Analysis by state of residence

Of all the states, Western Australia shows the highest rate of support (97%) for legalising the use of medicinal marijuana, although it should be noted that this is drawn from a smaller sample than the more heavily populated states, NSW and Victoria (92% respectively).

Meanwhile, 89% of both South Australians and Queenslanders are in favour of legalisation.

Analysis by voting intention

While social attitudes frequently vary depending on an individual's political preference, the issue of medicinal marijuana is not one of them. 

Support for legalisation is similarly strong among Australians intending to vote for L-NP (92%) in the next federal election and those planning to vote for the ALP (94%), and almost unanimous among Green voters (97%).

Roy Morgan Research CEO Michele Levine said the results indicate an overwhelming support for legalising the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"This bodes extremely well for the Federal Government's plan to legalise the growing of cannabis for medicinal purposes."

"Part of the Federal Government's plan is to allow each state's government to decide whether they will allow the drug to be grown. Our results show that a vast majority of residents in each state are in favour of legalisation: this will be of particular interest to Western Australia's Premier, Colin Barnett (not one of the movement's most vocal supporters), whose state has the strongest support (97%).

 "Unlike some social issues, legalising medicinal marijuana is widely favoured by electors of different political persuasions and age groups, which really tells us its time has come. Not surprisingly, Australians aged 50+ are the strongest supporters, as this group is most susceptible to several of the conditions that medicinal marijuana can provide relief from: Parkinson's disease, cancer, glaucoma and more. (Obviously, as the government develops the overall framework for medicinal marijuana use, the specifics regarding who qualifies for this kind of treatment will have to be determined.)

"It should also be noted that the special telephone survey found that only one third of the population believes that the smoking of marijuana should be made legal. This demonstrates that Australians understand that smoking and consuming marijuana for medicinal purposes are two very separate issues."

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