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Marijuana is a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance under the Wisconsin Uniform Controlled Substances Act.  Penalties can vary, depending upon the amount or whether it is person’s is a first or multiple offender.  (Associated Press) Marijuana is a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance under the Wisconsin Uniform Controlled Substances Act.  Penalties can vary, depending upon the amount or whether it is person’s is a first or multiple offender.  (Associated Press)

Marijuana is a Schedule I hallucinogenic substance under the Wisconsin Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Penalties can vary, depending upon the amount or whether it is person’s is a first or multiple offender. (Associated Press)

Paul Specht
By Paul Specht July 14, 2021

How many in North Carolina support medical marijuana?

If Your Time is short

  • North Carolinians haven't been polled many times on medical marijuana, specifically.
  • Support for medical marijuana surpassed 75% in only one of the four polls we found.
  • Each of the four polls show support for medicinal marijuana around 70% or higher. 

North Carolina lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow physicians to prescribe marijuana for some medical issues.

North Carolina is among a minority of states that haven’t legalized any form of marijuana.

A key state Senate committee recently gave preliminary approval to Senate Bill 711, which would allow cannabis as a treatment for cancer, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, PTSD and other comparable debilitating conditions.

Ahead of the meeting, Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel claimed that most North Carolinians support medicinal marijuana.

"Even though over 75% of the state supports medical marijuana we still have an uphill battle for final passage in the Republican controlled Legislature," tweeted Nickel, who’s raising money to run for Congress.

Is support for medicinal marijuana really that high?

Not consistently.

Available polling

Generally speaking, national polls show rising support for marijuana legalization. In 2018, PolitiFact reported that support for legal marijuana rose from 35% to 62% in only ten years.

Gallup, which has been polling on the issue since 1969, found last year that a record high 68% of Americans support full legalization. And earlier this year, the Pew Research Center found that 91% of Americans believe marijuana should be legal in some form. 

North Carolinians, meanwhile, haven’t been polled many times on whether medical marijuana should be legalized. While available polls show support for the issue, Nickel is slightly exaggerating their enthusiasm.

Featured Fact-check

In 2015, a Public Policy Polling poll found that 69% of 845 North Carolina registered voters supported marijuana for medicinal use. The margin of error was 3.4%.

In 2017, an Elon University poll found that 80% of 506 North Carolina voters said in a live-caller telephone survey that they support the idea. The margin of error was 4.36%.

In 2020, a Nexstar/Emerson College poll found that 73% of 717 registered voters approved of medical marijuana. The margin of error was 3.6%.

In 2021, another Elon University poll found that 73% support among 1,455 North Carolinians who were polled in an online survey. The poll’s "credibility interval" was 2.7%.

These numbers are high, but not consistently above 75% like Nickel said. Nickel’s office, for its part, cited a News & Observer story that described medical marijuana support in the state as being "nearly" 75%.

David McLennan, a political science professor who runs the Meredith College Poll, says he’s skeptical that more than 75% of North Carolinians support medicinal marijuana. 

"Seems to me that North Carolinians generally favor medical marijuana being legalized," McLennan said. "The support—at least as indicated by the four polls—suggests that support is pretty consistent and does not appear to be growing."

Our ruling

Wiley Nickel said "over 75% of the state supports medical marijuana."

Nickel is rounding up. Support for medical marijuana surpassed 75% in only one of the four polls we found dating back to 2015.

That said, each of the four polls show support for medicinal marijuana around 70% or higher. So he’s not far off.

His statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context. We rate it Half True.

Our Sources

Tweet by State Sen. Wiley Nickel on June 30, 2021.

Story by WRAL, "NC Senate panel approves medical marijuana bill," June 30, 2021.

Story by CBS17, "CBS 17/Emerson Poll shows majority of North Carolinians support legalization of medical marijuana," posted Sept. 22, 2020.

Story by the News & Observer, "Have questions about medical marijuana rules in North Carolina? We’ve got answers," posted June 30, 2021.

Story by PolitiFact, "Marijuana legalization in 5 charts: A 2018 midterm report," posted Oct. 26, 2018.

List of medical marijuana surveys on Norml.org.

2015 poll on marijuana support in North Carolina by Public Policy Polling

Polls by Elon University in 2017 and 2021 on marijuana and other state issues.

Story by FiveThirtyEight, "Americans From Both Parties Want Weed To Be Legal. Why Doesn’t The Federal Government Agree?" posted April 23, 2021.

Article by Pew Research Center, "Americans overwhelmingly say marijuana should be legal for recreational or medical use," posted April 16, 2021.

Articles by Gallup, "Support for Legal Marijuana Inches Up to New High of 68%" posted Nov. 9, 2020; "In U.S., Medical Aid Top Reason Why Legal Marijuana Favored," posted June 12, 2019.

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More by Paul Specht

How many in North Carolina support medical marijuana?

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