Bluegrass Poll: Kentuckians for medical marijuana, sales tax amendment

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A new WKYT/The Herald-Leader Bluegrass Poll found the majority of likely Kentucky voters are in favor of legalizing medical marijuana use and letting them decide whether communities should increase the sales tax.

While marijuana has never been more talked about, discussed, and debated as it is right now, the talk in Kentucky is about the drug’s medical use.

The poll -- conducted for WKYT-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and WHAS-TV -- found the majority of likely Kentucky voters support allowing the use of medical marijuana.

"This might be to me the most surprising finding in this poll,” said The Herald-Leader political writer Sam Youngman. “Fifty-two percent of Kentuckians support the legalization of medical marijuana. Now, that is not where Colorado is. It's not recreational use. Medical marijuana, which Frankfort has not shown much of an appetite to go after, but it certainly seems like Kentuckians favor it."

If legalized, the Cannabis Compassion Act would allow patients in Kentucky to qualify to use medicinal marijuana through the health department.

Eric Byrd, who decided to leave Kentucky for Colorado several months ago so he could treat his son's illness with marijuana, pleaded for changing the law in January.

"This is the choice we have in Kentucky: to leave our families, churches, careers, to leave a life we've known for years. I chose to do that, other families here will do that if you don't pass a law to allow medicinal cannabis," Byrd said a rally at the state capitol in Frankfort.

Washington D.C. and 21 states have already passed similar laws.

When it comes to whether individual communities could raise the six percent sales tax, 60 percent told the Bluegrass Poll they support a constitutional amendment that would give voters the right to approve or reject specific local sales taxes.

Both Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Louisville's mayor think communities need the option so money can be raised to finance public projects.

For the poll, SurveyUSA interviewed 1,200 adults with home phones and cell phones between January 30 and Tuesday. Of the adults, 1,082 were registered to vote in the state with 404 being registered Republicans eligible to vote in the May Republican primary. Primary questions asked only of Republicans. Other questions were asked of all registered voters.

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