Newsbrief: Nevada Marijuana Initiative Loses Support in Latest Poll 9/6/02

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The latest poll of Nevada voters, commissioned by the Las Vegas Sun and conducted by Mason & Dixon Polling and Research, found that opposition to the Nevada marijuana initiative, which would remove all criminal penalties for adult possession of up to three ounces, is increasing while support is decreasing. The latest numbers, based on a survey of 625 eligible voters, found 55% opposing Question 9, as the initiative is named on the ballot, and 40% backing the measure, with 5% undecided eight weeks before the polls open.

However, it is unclear to what extent the poll represents overall opinion within the state. According to a bulletin from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the pollsters only interviewed people who are the most likely to vote in Nevada's September primary, which means mostly the elderly, who are less supportive of the initiative than the population at large.

A month earlier, the same poll saw a tighter margin -- 44% in favor and 46% opposed, while a similar poll conducted for the Reno Gazette and KRNV-TV in Reno in late July found a dead heat, with 48% in favor, 48% opposed and 4% undecided. The slide came after the issue exploded in the Nevada media with the fleeting endorsement of the measure by the state's largest law enforcement organization, NCOPS. That endorsement galvanized the opposition, and its retraction days later has provided grist for foes ever since.

Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement (http://www.nrle.org), the MPP spin-off behind the campaign, continues to claim that Nevadans support the initiative's concept when it is communicated truthfully. A fundraising appeal from MPP Executive Director Rob Kampia stated that "[o]ur polling shows that Nevada voters support this common-sense approach to marijuana policy, so our opponents can only prevail if they lie to the voters about what the initiative would actually do."

Campaign spokesman Billy Rogers told the Sun the group will hammer on the point that the initiative only allows adults to possess marijuana at home, not in public places or while driving. "If that is what voters are hearing on election day, we will win the election," Rogers said. "We have to let them know exactly what is in the initiative." NRLE's ability to do that now depends on the generosity of donors.

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