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May 11, 2017

Legalizing weed in Pennsylvania is more popular than ...

Pot is more popular than ever. 

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has joined the chorus of pols supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania, backing the previously proposed idea of selling it through the state's liquor stores. While the mayor's voice carries some weight, recreational pot users shouldn't elate: The year-old medical marijuana law is still being implemented, and a GOP-heavy state Legislature figures to be a roadblock to full legalization in the near future. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf apparently isn't ready for it either.

Although it likely won't happen anytime soon, most support it. That's according to a Franklin & Marshall poll released Thursday, which shows 56 percent of registered voters surveyed are for legalization — a jump from 22 percent in 2006, when F&M started asking respondents their opinion on the issue.

The majority support even includes 44 percent of surveyed Republicans and mirrors a nationwide trend. In fact, legal weed was more popular than almost everything else people were asked about in the F&M poll.

For example:

• President Donald Trump (37 percent)

• Gov. Tom Wolf (41 percent)

• U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (38 percent)

• Believing Pennsylvania is headed in the right direction (31 percent)

As notes, legal weed's growing popularity is similar to the statewide trend toward supporting gay marriage. A 2006 F&M poll showed only 33 percent of respondents backing marriage equality, as opposed to 56 percent in 2014.

Later that year, a federal judge ruled Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional (preceding a similar U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015). With marijuana, however, advocates will likely have to rely on the glacial legislative process to capitalize on changing public opinion.

The F&M poll was conducted at the college's Center for Opinion Research between May 1-7 and surveyed 639 registered Pennsylvania voters, including 307 Democrats, 243 Republicans and 89 Independents.