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Poll: South Carolina Voters Want Next President to Respect State Marijuana Laws

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A new poll shows that voters in the key early presidential primary state of South Carolina strongly support ending federal prosecutions of people acting in accordance with state marijuana laws.

Among respondents, 65% agree that “states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference.” Only 16% believe that “the federal government should arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws.”

The survey, commissioned by Marijuana Majority, is a follow-up to other recent polls from the organization that showed supermajority support for respecting local marijuana laws in Iowa and New Hampshire, which are also key early presidential primary states. (Full disclosure: The author of this article is founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority.)

Across the three early primary state polls, the new data shows majority support for letting states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference among all political persuasions and demographics, including including Republicans, 2012 Mitt Romney voters, people older than 65 and those who identify as very conservative. While support for scaling back federal prohibition is higher among Democrats than Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire, Republicans in South Carolina more strongly back states’ rights to enact marijuana laws than Democrats there do.

While no major party presidential candidate has yet personally endorsed legalization, most of those that have been asked about the issue have voiced support for respecting state marijuana laws. Among the contenders in the race, only a small handful have said they’d enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have enacted legalization.

Previous polling has demonstrated that there is broad national support for letting states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference. For example, a Pew survey showed that 59% of Americans do not want the federal government to enforce marijuana laws in states that allow legal use, and CBS News found 58% support for the idea that marijuana laws should be set by states instead of the federal government.

The South Carolina survey, conducted September 3-6 by Public Policy Polling, includes 1,115 voters and has a margin of error of +/-2.9%.

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