Simon Poll Looks at Med Pot, Gay Marriage and Abortion

Mar 7, 2016

A new poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute shows most Illinoisans are OK with medical marijuana, but the jury's still out when it comes to recreational use of the drug.

The institute's associate director Delio Calzolari says respondents favor legalizing medical marijuana at about an 82-percent rate, according to the poll.

He says support for recreational marijuana is about 45-percent, compared to 51-percent who oppose legalizing it.

"One of the most interesting things about the results is you saw a big difference in our recreational marijuana support versus medicinal marijuana support, which is striking and it also tells us that people are viewing these as two separate policy issues, which I don't think would've been the case a few years back."

A four-year trial medical marijuana program will expire in 2018 in Illinois.

The poll of a thousand voting age people shows 53-percent of respondents believe gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry, and 25-percent believe they should be allowed to have civil unions. Sixteen-percent believe there should be no legal recognition of gay marriage.

Calzolari says public opinion has shifted on this issue more than any other since 2009 when the institute started polling. He says Illinois taking a leading role on this issue back in 2011 may have contributed to the turnaround.

"I think the public attention and perhaps some of the doom and gloom of those that were opposing were projecting once marriage equality was passed didn't play out, I think may have added to the numbers of people who previously had opposed."

Calzolari says 44 percent of the one-thousand voting aged people say abortion should be legal in certain circumstances, while 36 percent say it should be legal in all circumstances. Fifteen percent want abortion illegal in all circumstances.

"We were interested to see, particularly with some of the news in the last year, last six months, with Planned Parenthood and some of those stories, whether or not it had changed any of the feelings in Illinois and it doesn't seemed to have affected it."

Planned Parenthood made headlines last year after an anti-abortion activist group accused it of illegally profiting from fetal tissue donation programs.