UM poll: Majority support legal medical pot for adults

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

The majority of Americans support legal medical marijuana for adults, but only if it's used away from children, according to a national poll conducted by the University of Michigan Health System.

More than 2,000 adults surveyed in November and December last year were asked about medical marijuana use by adults and children, according to a Monday press release by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital national poll on children's health.

Of the respondents, around one-third support medical marijuana use by children, as opposed to nearly two-thirds who support use by adults, officials said.

Eighty percent of those surveyed indicated adults should be prohibited from using medical marijuana in the presence of children. The view was most prominent among parents of children younger than 18 years old, officials said.

Around half the states currently have laws allowing medical marijuana and a few, including Michigan, enforce stricter rules for children's use, according to the study. Officials said the Mott poll was the first to address the public's view of use by children compared to adults.

"Our findings suggest that not only is the public concerned about the use of medical marijuana among children, but that the majority of Americans worry that even exposure to it may be harmful to kids' health," said Matthew Davis, director of the National Poll on Children's Health. "As is typical with anything involving health, the public's standards are much higher when it comes to protecting children's health."

Research has indicated the brains and nervous systems of children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to adverse effects of marijuana use, officials said in the release. Concerns have been raised by the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Ten percent of those surveyed either have a medical marijuana card or know someone who does, while 7 percent either use marijuana when children are present or know someone who does, officials said.

The results were released Monday as new bills in Congress ask the federal government to reclassify marijuana as a controlled substance that legally can be dispensed, officials said.

The report drew from a nationally representative household survey of 2,176 adults. Respondents were randomly selected and closely resembled the U.S. population, officials said. Completion rate was 54 percent among those contacted and the margin of error is plus/minus 2 to 3 percentage points.

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