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September 26, 2010

Latest poll suggests positive buzz surrounding California's marijuana legalization proposition

The local story, which is headlined "Marijuana legalization measure gets big lift,"  reports on the latest polling on California's various ballot initiatives this election season. Here is how it begins:

In a dramatic shift of sentiment, nearly half of California's likely voters now want to legalize marijuana use in the state, according to a new Field Poll. "The numbers have flipped (on Proposition 19) since our July poll," said Mark DiCamillo, the poll's director. "That's a major change in the direction of public feelings on legalizing marijuana."

The survey results being released today are especially meaningful since the first ballots for the Nov. 2 election will be cast in a little more than a week from now, starting Oct. 4.

The poll also found that voters remain strongly opposed to Proposition 23, which would suspend AB32, the state law limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Proposition 25, which would end the two-thirds requirement to pass a state budget, holds a solid lead, but the race appears to be rapidly tightening.

But it's California's effort to become the first state in the nation to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older that's being watched across the country.

Forty-nine percent of those likely voters now support Prop. 19, with 42 percent opposed. In a July poll, 48 percent of those surveyed planned to vote against the ballot initiative, with 44 percent backing legalization.

The reversal came despite a total absence of paid advertising for either side. Neither supporters nor opponents of the measure have raised much money for the Prop. 19 campaign, so far relying on word-of-mouth and media coverage to get their stories out.

That hasn't kept California voters from paying attention to the race, however. The poll found that 84 percent had seen or heard about the effort to legalize marijuana. By contrast, fewer than 40 percent of the voters had heard anything about the other two ballot measures in the survey.

This strikes me a big news not only because it suggests that Proposition 19 has a real chance of passage, but also because these kinds of poll numbers ought to allow (and perhaps even force) a greater number of politicians to begin discussing the possibility of marijuana decriminalization more seriously.  Moreover, these demographics makes me wonder which politicians may be the quickest to jump on the pot decriminalization bandwagon:

Men and women have very different views of Prop. 19, as do the young and the old.  While 54 percent of men back legalization, only 44 percent of women support Prop. 19.  Nearly 60 percent of the youngest voters, those under 40, want to see marijuana made legal.  Fifty-three percent of those 65 and older oppose it....

Support for Prop. 19 also breaks along geographic and political lines, with the heavily Democrat coastal counties 54 percent in favor while the more Republican inland areas are 52 percent opposed.  Not surprisingly, the measure's strongest support comes from the Bay Area and Los Angeles County, where just under 60 percent favor legalization.

September 26, 2010 at 11:17 AM | Permalink

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