The Wason Center at Christopher Newport University (CNU), located in Newport News, Virginia, recently released results of a survey which shows that the majority of Virginia voters support legalization of recreational cannabis in the state. This trend in Virginia matches an overall American shift in attitudes about cannabis legalization and growing support for legalization efforts both on a state and federal level.

Currently in Virginia, state law allows adults to legally possess up to 1 oz. of cannabis in public and to grow up to 4 marijuana plants per household. However, any retail sales are restricted to authorized medical cannabis patients.

The new study from CNU shows that a growing number of Virginians would like that to change.

Study Methods

The Wason Center polled 1,038 Virginia registered voters via landline and cell phone in January 2023.

Key Findings

The survey’s key findings include:

  • A majority of Virginia voters support legalization of cannabis sales for recreational purposes.
  • Survey results for allowing retail sale of recreational cannabis in Virginia: 60% approve; 34% don’t approve; 6% don’t know.
  • Democrats strongly approve of retail sales of recreational cannabis for adults (75% to 21%).
  • Republicans are split in their approval (44% approve to 47% do not approve).
  • Younger voters (ages 18-44) approved of recreational cannabis retail sales more than older voters (aged 45+) (72% to 50%).

Whether or not the legislature will be able to pass allowances for retail sales of legal cannabis remains to be seen. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo, Research Director of the Wason Center stated, “Marijuana has proved to be a major topic of discussion in the current General Assembly session given the unusual nature of current Virginia law. As it stands, it is legal to possess and cultivate small amounts of marijuana, but retail sale is still not allowed. The Governor has largely shied away from answering questions about his stance, while both Democrats and Republicans have proposed a range of bills on the subject. It remains to be seen whether lawmakers can actually come to an agreement, however.”

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