CENTREVILLE – The Queen Anne’s County Drug Free Coalition has released the data from an extensive, 1,000-response survey it conducted regarding the legalization of marijuana.
With 1,019 total responses – gathered through various community networks and events, including a collaboration with local churches, and a week-long presence at the county fair – 37.92 percent of those surveyed found it “very likely” that Queen Anne’s County voters would support the legalization of recreational marijuana, a social and legislative talking point ramping up in momentum.
The locally-directed question was the most challenged, or even split, of the survey — 27.92 percent thought Queen Anne’s voters were “not likely” to support the drug’s legalization, and another 34.16 percent were undecided.
However, that trend did not persevere when the question was broadened to include the potential statewide reaction to recreational marijuana. A majority (67.16 percent) of the survey’s respondents, nearly 900 of which were residents of the county, believed it was “very likely” that Maryland voters would support marijuana’s legalization.
Sensing trends throughout the country, responders answering the survey’s “check all that apply” question directed towards the potential benefits of legalization saw an embedded economic opportunity. 595 respondents felt that with fees and taxes for growers and dispensaries, legalized marijuana could provide extra income for the county; and another 489 felt that the marijuana industry could be a source of business and jobs for local citizens.
In answering this question, 435 responses also saw marijuana as a potential, legal alternative to other more dangerous drugs, such as opioids, and 323 saw cannabis as an alternative to alcohol.
Nearly 300 responders found no benefits for Queen Anne’s County citizens in legalizing recreational marijuana.
The results, released by the Drug Free Coalition via email and elaborated on during their Oct. 13 meeting, also included anonymous comments from those who participated in the survey, adding dimension to the coalition’s figures – which, the group said, would be used to “help inform [their] drug use prevention efforts.”
“The comments seem well thought out,” Warren Wright, leader of the coalition, wrote in an email to The Bay Times. “I would like to hope that the 20 years we have been sending out factual information about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs have helped our community.”
These topical comments included the social and economic ramifications of legalized marijuana.
“Benefits do not outweigh the risk,” one responder said, referring to the drug’s medicinal properties and purposes.
“Marijuana should not be legal in any capacity,” said another. “It’s worse than cigarettes...I can’t enjoy sitting outside anymore without the smell and smoke invading my fresh air space.”
“Less stigma for existing medical patients,” one person offered. “Less wasting of the sheriff’s office’s resources, which will free them up to do more productive police work.”
“I think the extra income is a long-term goal,” another commenter said. A small majority (51.96 percent) of those surveyed said that if marijuana were to be legalized, it should be grown and distributed within Queen Anne’s. “Relief of fear of apprehension is an immediate win for the county.”
Eighteen states, two territories, and Washington D.C. have legalized small amounts of marijuana for adult recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Maryland, cannabis is only legal medicinally; patients registered with the state’s medical marijuana program may possess upwards of four ounces of dried cannabis, or one ounce of infused product, at any time.
Similarly, possession, in small amounts, without intent to deliver is decriminalized in Maryland. Anyone found with more than 10 grams of cannabis, however, is subject to criminal charges.