The Chatter

Marylanders Overwhelmingly Favor Legal Pot, $15 Minimum Wage, Euthanasia

Goucher Poll suggests public support in the state for liberal policies.

By large margins, Maryland residents say they support legislation currently before the General Assembly that would significantly change diverse swaths of longstanding public policy, including the recreational use of marijuana, the minimum wage, education spending, and aid-in-dying. (Among others, retired NPR host Diane Rehm, who has supported aid-in-dying legislation since her husband’s 2014 death in hospice care in the state, recently testified in favor of such legislation.)

Similarly, an overwhelming majority of Marylanders, 86 percent, say they are “very” of “somewhat” concerned with pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, according to the latest Goucher Poll released today. And 62 percent of residents rate the health of the environment in Maryland as either “poor” or “fair” as legislators consider raising the state’s renewable energy targets.

At the same time, the study revealed that important, differing perceptions of racial discrimination and justice among white and black citizens continue to persist. Also noteworthy: A majority of both groups agree race relations in Maryland have worsened in recent years.

“The Democrats in the General Assembly have laid out a robust set of policy proposals this legislative session,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in a statement. “Our poll results suggest that much of their agenda is popular with the general public. Some of these issues, however, are contentious and will face formidable opposition from organized interests on their way to an uncertain fate at Gov. [Larry] Hogan’s desk.”

From the Goucher Poll, which surveyed 808 adults between February 7-12:

Statewide Policy Issues

  • 67 percent support raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and 30 percent oppose it.
  • 57 percent support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and 37 percent oppose it.
  • 63 percent support a statewide ban on Styrofoam products such as food containers, plates, and cups and 31 percent oppose it.
  • 62 percent support the proposed “aid-in-dying” bill and 31 percent oppose it.
  • 64 percent say the state spends too little on education, 24 percent say about the right amount.
  • 66 percent support raising the minimum age for the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products and 31 percent oppose it.

Racial Justice Issues in Maryland

  • 39 percent of all Marylanders agree that “people of all races receive equal treatment by the police in your community.”
    • Among African Americans, 18 percent agree.
    • Among whites, 47 percent agree.
  • 55 percent of Marylanders agree that “racial minorities face discrimination on the job or at work in Maryland.”
    • Among African Americans, 69 percent agree.
    • Among whites, 47 percent agree.
  • 53 percent of Marylanders agree that “race relations in Maryland have gotten worse over the past few years.”
    • Among African Americans, 54 percent agree.
    • Among whites, 54 percent agree.
  • 24 percent of Marylanders agree that “the criminal justice system in Maryland treats whites and blacks equally.”
    • Among African Americans, 10 percent agree.
    • Among whites, 30 percent agree.
  • 63 percent of Marylanders agree that “racism is a big problem in Maryland today.”
    • Among African Americans, 72 percent agree.
    • Among whites, 58 percent agree.