By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - More than half of Colorado voters polled believe legalizing recreational marijuana has been good for the state but were unlikely to vote for a candidate for public office who regularly uses pot, a poll released on Monday showed.
The telephone survey conducted by Quinnipiac University showed 52 percent of some 1,298 voters polled this month view legalization as a positive for the state.
Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize the possession and use of recreational cannabis in voter initiatives in 2012, and the first retail pot shops opened in Colorado in January.
"Voters overall have a positive view of the Colorado marijuana experiment," the university said in a statement accompanying the poll results.
A majority think legalized pot will increase personal freedoms, and likewise do not think cannabis legalization has made Colorado roads less safe or "eroded the moral fiber" of the state, the poll showed.
Nearly half of those polled said they had tried marijuana, but just 15 percent said they have used pot since commercial sales have been allowed. But among Republicans and Colorado voters over age 65, some 68 percent said legalization has been bad for the state.
While the poll showed a majority of people support legalized pot, 52 percent said they would not vote for a candidate who consumes cannabis more than twice a week, said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll.
"Colorado voters are generally good to go on grass, across the spectrum, from personal freedom to its taxpayer benefits to its positive impact on the criminal justice system," Malloy said. "But if you are a politician, think twice before smokin' them if you got ‘em," Malloy said.
The same poll also showed that 61 percent of Colorado voters approve of same-sex marriage. A state constitutional amendment defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman, but civil unions are allowed under a law passed last year.
The poll, conducted between April 15 and April 21, has a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Diane Craft)