COLUMBIA - Results from a KOMU 8 News survey show more than 80 percent of respondents would vote to legalize marijuana in Missouri.
As Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana, lawmakers and citizens alike began to mull the idea here in Missouri.
While Colorado has seen substantial tax revenue from the legalization of recreational marijuana, some critics worry about the moral implications and safety risks of legalization in Missouri.
KOMU 8 News opened the survey to the public starting Tuesday and closed the poll Thursday at 11:59 p.m. we received 3,152 responses.
A vast majority, 86 percent of the respondents, said they would vote to legalize marijuana in Missouri. 13 percent said they would vote no.
KOMU 8 News asked why viewers oppose or support the legislation. One 60+ woman Salisbury wrote, "Prohibition on alcohol was outrageous and many suffered. The same is occurring with marijuana. Just legalize it. If you don't like it, don't use it. No one will force you. Imagine what all those increased tax dollars could pay for."
One Columbia man in the 30-39 age range suggested he would vote to allow medical marijuana only.
"Not enough studies have been done to see both harm and benefits of general public marijuana use. Also, it will add to DUI statistics, in addition to alcohol," he wrote.
A Columbia woman, age 30-39, said she would not vote for legalization.
"THC levels are so high it shouldnt be called marijuana anymore as it's in a completely different "drug" category now. I dont want to see dispenseries in my county," she wrote.
In support, some respondents mentioned marijuana's widely-cited health benefits, while others pointed toward tax revenue posibilities.
A Marshall woman, age 21-29, wrote: "If marijuana is helping millions of people, including the young and old, become better than why not? We are allowed to smoke cigarettes and consume alcohol. Two things that are confirmed to kill thousands of people each year. Marijuana has never killed anyone. It cures."
Another respondent, a male age 21-20, said: "Major health benefits have been proven. Eliminates the crime involved with illegal drug distribution. Revenue."
In opposition, some worried about increased crime rates, safety on the roads and the impression on the state's youth.
"The reports coming out of Colorado related to deaths on highways, problems in schools, etc. are staggering. It is offensive to me that as Missourians, we would value the short-term tax revenue over Missourians health and safety," one Columbia woman, age 30-39, said.
When asked to weigh the advantages and disadvantages, many mentioned a combination of the above reasons.
"The smoke and smell will be atrocious in downtown Columbia and campus. The black market for marijuana will not go away - people will try to get it tax-free. One advantage will be fewer law enforcement resources being used, so they can try to solve other cases," one Columbia man said.
One woman wrote the "advantage would be a tax base." She said, "A disadvantage would be for anyone with an addictive personality; they would be at risk even trying it. Marijuana use can and typically does lead to other things when marijuana no longer gives the high and release the addict seeks."
KOMU 8 News asked our respondents how often they used the drug, if at all. Most of our respondents, nearly 46 percent, said they never used the drug. Our second highest response rate on this question, however, came from daily users of marijuana. 24 percent of those surveyed said they used every day.171 people choose to skip the question.
Our survey's respondents were predominantly 21-49 years of age. 34 percent were in between the ages of 21 and 29, 25 percent were between 30 and 39, and about 14 percent were between 40 and 49. Those 50 years old and older accounted for nearly 17 percent of the survey.