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INDIANAPOLIS — An overwhelming share of Hoosiers believe marijuana should be legalized for either recreational or medicinal use, according to the 2018 Hoosier Survey sponsored by Old National Bank and Ball State University.

The Oct. 2 to Oct. 20 telephone poll of 604 randomly selected Indiana adults by Issues and Answers Network, Inc. found 39 percent of Hoosiers favor allowing marijuana to be used for any purpose, while 42 percent prefer limiting marijuana availability to medical uses.

Just 16 percent said they support continuing the state's complete prohibition on any marijuana use by Hoosiers.

The poll had a plus-or-minus 5.1 percent margin of error.

According to the survey, support for outright legalization was strongest among adults ages 18 to 34, with nearly 6 in 10 backing recreational marijuana use in Indiana. The results were released Tuesday.

Support for full legalization was 37 percent among 35- to 54-year-olds, and just 27 percent for Hoosiers age 55 and up.

At the same time, a plurality of both 35- to 54-year-olds (47 percent) and individuals age 55 and up (46 percent) said they favor legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"In considering drug problems in their community, Hoosiers seem to consider marijuana as fundamentally different than 'hard' street drugs, such a methamphetamine and heroin, or commonly abused prescription drugs, such as OxyContin," said Charles Taylor, managing director of the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State, which conducts the annual public opinion survey.

"They not only rated marijuana as less serious than these other drugs, but even rate it as less serious than alcohol. Given this view, it is not too surprising that a large percentage of Hoosiers are willing to see marijuana legalized, at least for medical purposes."

The poll also found that among those who favor keeping marijuana illegal in Indiana, only 16 percent believe that Hoosiers convicted of possessing small amounts of the drug should go to jail.

A sizeable majority (78 percent) said there should be no jail time for marijuana possession.

Marijuana policy is expected to be a major issue during the 2019 Indiana General Assembly, which next week will hold a one-day organizational meeting ahead of its four-month regular session that begins in January.

State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, along with state Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, are expected to lead the push for legalizing medicinal marijuana in the Hoosier State, as Illinois and 32 other states already have done.

Hoosier lawmakers next year also may reconsider Indiana's marijuana possession restrictions after Michigan voters last week approved a referendum legalizing adult recreational marijuana use, likely beginning in 2020.

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.