Connecticut voters strongly support the state’s legalization of marijuana for medical treatment and are open, by a closer margin, to allowing its recreational use, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

Slightly less than half the state has used marijuana and 59 percent says legalization would encourage underage use, but overwhelmingly voters say alcohol is more harmful to a person’s health than marijuana and would remain a bigger health threat if pot were legalized.

By more than a 2-1 margin, voters say they would support a medical marijuana dispensary in their town.

Connecticut legalized marijuana for medical use in 2012, with the first six marijuana dispensaries to open this summer in Branford, Bridgeport, Bristol, Hartford, Montville and South Windsor. State law allows patients with one of 11 debilitating illnesses to use marijuana for palliative purposes if their doctors believe it’s appropriate.

Ninety percent of voters support the law.

Support for legalizing small amounts of marijuana for recreational use is much closer, 52 percent to 45 percent, with opinions varying by age and gender.

Voters 18 to 29 years old support legalization, 80 percent to 20 percent, while those over 65 are opposed 61 percent to 34 percent. Men support it, 54 percent to 42 percent, with women split, 49 percent to 48 percent.

On other issues polled by Quinnipiac, voters remain divided on the repeal of the death penalty and supportive of a $10.10 minimum wage and post-Newtown gun controls.

The post-Newtown gun law is supported, 56 percent to 38 percent, but it provokes sharp differences based on gender and political affiliation, drawing opposition from men and Republicans and support from women, Democrats and unaffiliated voters.

Support is 81 percent to 14 percent among Democrats and 54 percent to 40 percent among unaffiliated voters, with Republicans opposed,  69 percent to 25 percent. Men oppose stricter gun laws, 51 percent to 45 percent, while women support them, 66 percent to 27 percent.

Voters overwhelmingly back the use of metal detectors in school, with less support for armed guards, 49 percent to 44 percent.

The poll was based on a telephone survey of 1,668 voters conducted from May 1 to 6. It has a margin of error or plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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