A poll conducted by The Hill and Emerson College has revealed that Alabama residents are split on the issue of adult-use cannabis legalization, according to a CBS 42 report.

The poll found that 47% of Alabamians oppose legalization, while 42% support it, the news outlet reported.

“There’s still a lot of controversy about marijuana in Alabama,” Emerson College Polling Executive Director Spencer Kimball told CBS 42.

This controversy was recently highlighted when Tim James, a leading gubernatorial candidate in Alabama, claimed during a town hall forum that state officials want to create a “drug cartel” in implementing the state’s medical cannabis program.

“This is nothing but a bait and switch to desensitize and get recreational use started,” James said. “Their dream is recreational pot and that is where they are going.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed Alabama’s medical cannabis legislation into law in May 2021, and the state plans to open the application process for businesses seeking cultivation and distribution licenses on Sept. 1.

In the meantime, legislation making its way through the Alabama Legislature would lessen the penalties for possessing up to 2 ounces of cannabis to a fine.

“We would save a lot of money and police resources if we were to legalize recreational marijuana,” Alabama Appleseed Research Director Leah Nelson told CBS 42. “I hope they go ahead and legalize it at some point, but decriminalization is an important first step.”