Public skeptical of Phillips-Hill's marijuana legalization survey

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Kristin Phillips-Hill, R- Jacobus, defeated Democratic challenger Judith Higgins, Tuesday, November 6, 2018, to win the 23rd Senate seat. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

A recent survey from Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill gauging constituents' thoughts on marijuana legalization came under fire recently as residents questioned her methodology.

The York Township Republican on Monday, Oct. 14, released a survey her office conducted of the state's 28th Senate District that reported 71% of those who participated oppose the legalization of marijuana. 

"I think what I've found is that (these surveys) are a good way to gauge interest in the district," Phillips-Hill said Tuesday. "It's a way that I can assure that I'm listening to the people I'm responsible to. The nice thing about it is that we're able to do this without spending taxpayer dollars."

Shortly after its release, social media users shared their skepticism of Phillips-Hill's survey, which offered no details about the methodology. With hundreds of comments on Facebook alone, many accused the results of being statistically invalid.

"Can we get some sort of background on how you arrived at this conclusion, as nonpartisan studies have shown the EXACT OPPOSITE of your claims," wrote one commenter. "Oh, and they showed their work."

Phillips-Hill's office conducted the survey by advertising it on Twitter, Facebook and her e-newsletter, she said Tuesday. There were 1,175 respondents from within the district.

The survey reported that just 26% of respondents supported marijuana legalization, and 3% are undecided. The district is home to roughly 245,000 people.

Just last month, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman released his own marijuana legalization report, the culmination of a 67-county marijuana legalization listening tour that more than 10,000 state residents attended.

As many as 70% of residents supported legalization, according to Fetterman's report, which led to Gov. Tom Wolf and other Democratic officials calling for legalization.

Republicans, most of whom vehemently oppose legalization, criticized the unscientific nature of the tour, which relied on attendees raising their hands either in support of or in opposition to legalizing marijuana. Fetterman also collected online responses.

Despite the fact her district is very conservative and may not reflect statewide opinions, Phillips-Hill asserted it's more reliable than Fetterman's tour because her staff could confirm whether respondents lived in the district by checking submitted addresses.

What her survey did, she said, was provide a more realistic view of what the district's constituents want when it comes to weed.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.