Mississippi Voters Favor Medicinal and Recreational Marijuana Legalization, Medicaid Expansion

June 8, 2021

A majority of Mississippi voters—over 63%—want the legislature to enact a medical marijuana law that mirrors the one passed by voters last November but was nullified by the State Supreme Court’s recent ruling regarding flaws with the state’s ballot initiative process, according to the latest State of the State Survey conducted by Millsaps College and Chism Strategies. Related to this, more than 20% of the electorate says legalizing medical marijuana is the most important issue that will determine how they vote in the next elections for state positions such as governor, lieutenant governor and the state legislature.

Millsaps College and Chism Strategies have conducted the quarterly State of the State Survey for 15 quarters since 2017 in an effort to provide an unbiased, academic view of current political issues in Mississippi through the response of its citizens.

The latest survey also finds that 52% of Mississippians favor going beyond medicinal marijuana by legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, an idea opposed by 37% of voters surveyed. The survey also finds strong support for Medicaid expansion in Mississippi, with 55% in support and just 27% opposed. Voters also give high marks to law enforcement, with over 60% reporting they approve of the job police in their communities are doing. Over three-quarters of respondents want state leaders to help local and municipal governments raise the pay of Mississippi police officers, who make considerably less than the national average.

“Mississippi voters overwhelmingly support legalizing medicinal marijuana, which was actually done by the electorate last November. They also favor legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes and expanding Medicaid by healthy margins,” said Dr. Nathan R. Shrader, chair of the Department of Government and Politics and director of American Studies at Millsaps College. “If you look closely at what the voters are expressing in terms of their policy preferences, you will see they do not appear to be anywhere near the same ideological positions as the majority of the state’s elected officials. The coming months, including the 2022 legislative session, will be a test of how long the state’s elected leaders can hold positions that are greatly at odds with the majority of Mississippi’s voters.”

  • 38% of voters believe the state is heading in the wrong direction while 34% think the state is moving in the right direction. Just over 28% are unsure.
  • A 28-point gap exists between those who approve and disapprove of the state legislature’s performance, with 49% disapproving and 21% approving of their work. 30% are unsure.
  • 48% disapprove of the performance of Governor Tate Reeves, while 35% approve and 17% are undecided.
  • 64% of voters who favor expanding Medicaid do so because they believe too many Mississippians are unable to get access to the healthcare coverage they need.
  • Opponents of Medicaid expansion are almost evenly split between their concern of becoming overly dependent on Washington D.C. and those who think expansion is too expensive for taxpayers.
  • 55% support Governor Reeves’ decision to opt out of federal unemployment benefits that provided an additional $300 to help Mississippians who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. 35% oppose the decision, while 10% are unsure.
  • Less than a quarter of those who have not already received the COVID-19 vaccination say they are likely to get vaccinated while 61% of those who are unvaccinated say there is nothing that will convince them to get the vaccine.
  • Nearly 40% of voters want the census-driven congressional and legislative redistricting process this year to be conducted by a non-partisan commission of citizens and experts. 24% would like a hybrid panel of citizens and elected officials, 15% think redistricting should continue to be handled by the state legislature, and 22% are unsure.

“We salute Millsaps College for its commitment to providing elected officials and community leaders a quarterly measure of public opinion. It is our hope that policy makers will make wise use of this polling data to strengthen Mississippi,” said Brad Chism, president of Chism Strategies.

The survey was conducted from May 26-28, 2021 with a sample size of 659, with 48% of interviews conducted via cell phone and 52% via landline. The survey has a Margin of Error of +/-3.82%. Results were weighted to reflect voter turnout for the 2020 Mississippi elections.

Millsaps College and Chism Strategies have conducted the quarterly State of the State Survey for 14 quarters since 2017 in an effort to provide an unbiased, academic view of current political issues in Mississippi through the response of its citizens.


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