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PPIC Poll: Prop 19 Behind 49% to 44%

Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in California, has lost support and is now trailing, according to poll results released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). The landline and cell phone poll of 2,002 adults surveyed between October 10 and 17 has Prop 19 losing, 49% to 44%, with 7% undecided.

The numbers for Prop 19 are down eights from PPIC's September poll, which had it winning with 52%. But they are almost the mirror image of SurveyUSA poll also released Wednesday that showed Prop 19 leading 48% to 44%.

In the new PPIC poll, the initiative lost significant support among independents (from 65% to 40%) and Latinos (63% to 42%), and among almost all demographic groups. Whites are now more likely to oppose the support Prop 19 by a thin margin, a reversal from last month.

This poll is the fifth of 15 polls taken this year to show Prop 19 trailing. Ten others had it ahead, but only four of them had it at 50% or over, and the last one to do so was last month's PPIC poll. According to the Talking Points Memo Polltracker, the average of all polls has Prop 19 leading 46.8% to 44.5%.  As of publication time, it had not been updated with Wednesday's two polls, but in terms of the poll averages, they would be a wash.

This is going to get very tense for the next 12 days.

United States

Arizona Medical Marijuana Initiative Poised for Victory [FEATURE]

Less than two weeks out from election day, the Arizona medical marijuana initiative, Proposition 203, appears poised for victory. If it wins, Arizona will become the 15th medical marijuana state. Or maybe the 16th -- polls close an hour earlier in South Dakota, which also has a medical marijuana initiative on the ballot.

Lily Rose, cancer survivor and Prop 203 spokesperson
"It's going real well," said Andrew Myers, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project (AMMPP). "Prop 203 is the most popular of any of the initiatives or the candidates, including John McCain."

A Rocky Mountain poll released last week had Prop 203 passing with 54% among registered voters and 52% among likely voters. By comparison, Sen. John McCain in a runaway race has support at 49%, according to the poll.

The poll showed strong support among voters under 55 and a near even split among older voters, with 41% supporting and 43% opposed. Two-thirds of Democrats support the measure, as do 57% of independents. Republicans are divided, with 48% opposing, but 40% supporting.

"We expect that Arizonans will support Prop 203 the same way we supported medical marijuana before," Myers said, noting that voters had passed medical marijuana initiatives in 1996 and 1998. "Those votes demonstrated a high level of support, and we came back and drafted a complete piece of legislation. We were able to learn a lot of lessons about how these programs operated in other states, and apply those lessons in our initiative."

Under the initiative, patients suffering from a specified list of diseases or conditions (cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, Chrohn's disease, Alzheimers, wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, severe muscle spasms) or "any other conditions or its treatment added by the Department [of Health]" could use marijuana upon a doctor's recommendation. Patients or designated caregivers could possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of usable marijuana.

The initiative envisions a system of state-registered, nonprofit dispensaries that could grow, process, sell, and transport medical marijuana and be remunerated for costs incurred in the process. In most cases, patients or their caregivers would not be allowed to grow their own medicine. Instead, unless they live more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary, they would have to purchase their medicine at a dispensary. Patients and their caregivers outside that range would be allowed to grow up to 12 plants.

Arizonans have also twice voted to approve medical marijuana, in 1996 and again in 1998. In 1996, the initiative passed, only to be rejected by the state legislature, which placed it on the ballot two years later in order to give voters a chance to rectify their mistake. But the voters again approved medical marijuana, only to find out later that the measure was unworkable because the initiative mandated that physicians prescribe -- not recommend -- medical marijuana. That meant that doctors who wanted their patients to use marijuana would run up against the DEA, which controls doctors' ability to prescribe controlled substances.

In 2002, voters rejected a decriminalization initiative that had, as Myers put it, "a wacky medical component." Under that measure, the state Department of Public Safety would have had to distribute seized marijuana for free to medical marijuana patients.

Organized opposition has been late and limited. All of the state's sheriffs and district attorneys signed on to a letter opposing Prop 203 earlier this month. Medical marijuana in other states has led to "disastrous results," the letter claimed. "Marijuana floods the state that legalizes it and becomes readily available through grow-houses and independent distributors... Prop 203 would endanger the good people of Arizona by increasing the amount of illegal drugs in our State. We believe Prop 203 will lead to increased crime and vehicle accidents and will drain the resources of law enforcement agencies."

The letter warns that passage of the measure would mean "kids (any age)" could use medical marijuana with their parents' permission, but fails to mention either that a doctor's recommendation would be required or that other medications are available to children when needed.

It also warns that "you can pilot an airplane, navigate a watercraft and drive an automobile and cannot be charged with DUI if you only have marijuana metabolites in your system and you are a medical marijuana cardholder" -- failing to mention that the presence of metabolites, which can remain in the system form weeks, is not an indicator of impairment.

More serious opposition is centered on Keep AZ Drug Free/No on Prop 213, which has been the recipient of $10,000 donations from both former Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo and the Arizona Cardinals NFL team. This group has been active in getting op-eds published, doing call-ins to radio talk shows, and participating in public forums, but still doesn't seem to be gaining much traction.

"For a long time, we didn't hear a peep out of the opposition, but lately it's been getting intense and they've been getting increasingly strident," said Myers. "It's funny because their arguments have been very inaccurate, especially at the beginning of the campaign. I don't think they actually read the initiative before they came out against it."

The campaign is running on limited resources. The Marijuana Policy Project put $500,000 into the signature gathering phase of the campaign, but hasn't funded the actual election campaign. That means AMMPP is having to rely largely on local donations, and while the campaign isn't broke, like the opposition, it isn't exactly rolling in money, either.

"We're talking to as many voters as we can, we have TV ads up and running, but what we can do will depend on funding in these final days," said Myers. "We have an extensive cable TV buy in Phoenix and Tucson, but we haven't made our final spending decisions yet."

1996, 1998, 2002, 2010. It looks like the fourth time may be the charm for medical marijuana in Arizona.

United States

Will South Dakota Voters Pass Medical Marijuana? [FEATURE]

[This article has been updated with additional interview commentary.]

South Dakota medical marijuana patients and advocates are hoping that in two weeks the Mt. Rushmore state will become the 15th medical marijuana state. They came close in 2006, losing by only four percentage points, but think they can get over the top this time around.

Pro-Measure 13 Demonstration, Rapid City (courtesy South Dakota Coalition for Compassion)
After that 2006 defeat, activists went back to the drawing board, eventually crafting a tightly-drawn medical marijuana initiative designed to win over a skeptical and conservative prairie electorate. The result, the South Dakota Safe Access Act, known on the ballot as Measure 13, would make the South Dakota medical marijuana law among the most restrictive in the nation.

The initiative limits medical marijuana access to patients with a list of specified illnesses and conditions. It requires that patients be in a "bona fide relationship" with the recommending physician and provides for a state registry and ID card system.

Patients are limited to an ounce of marijuana and six plants. They can designate one caregiver each, and each caregiver can grow for no more than five patients. Caregivers can be remunerated for costs, but cannot make profits. There is no provision for a dispensary system.

"This initiative addresses the concerns of people in South Dakota about people who just want to use it recreationally," said Tony Ryan, a former Denver police officer who is now a spokesman for the South Dakota Coalition for Compassion, the group behind the measure. "They won't be able to get it. People were worried it would get into the wrong hands, so it is really restrictive, but it will get the medicine to the patients who need it and keep them from getting arrested or going to the black market."

"I have a really good feeling about this," said Rep. Martha Vanderlinde (D-Sioux Falls), who sponsored a 2008 medical marijuana bill in the state legislature. "I think most of the people already have their minds made up. The more people I talk to, they say why not, if it's going to reduce the pain and suffering."

Vanderlinde, who is running for reelection, has been talking to a lot of people. She said she had knocked on 2,500 doors during the election campaign, and while she didn't always bring up the initiative, many of her constituents did.

"Just today, this little old lady leaned over and whispered 'How are you voting on 13?' and I told I had already voted for it, and she said 'Good,'" Vanderlinde said. "When people ask me, I tell them how I voted and that my father voted for it, too. People told me this was political suicide at the legislature, but my constituents don't think so," said the registered nurse.

Bob Newland has been South Dakota's one man marijuana movement  for years, playing a leading, if behind the scenes, role in the 2006 effort. After a pot bust near Rapid City last year, he was silenced for a year in an unusual sentence from a local judge, but now he's back, and he's cautiously optimistic.

"Everything I see tells me we're going to win," said Newland. "I was very optimistic in 2006, and we had reason to be. We got 47.3%. All of those people will vote for us, so we got a hell of a start before we even got this on the ballot."

Four years have made a difference, said Newland. "The national raising of consciousness and people's realization that, yes, this is of benefit to some people and it makes no sense to punish them have increased support," he said.

And last time around, the Office of National Drug Control Policy under Republican drug czar John Walters sent representatives to South Dakota to hold press conferences with local law enforcement opposing medical marijuana. This time, there is no sign the drug czar's office will intervene in the state ballot measure contest. Newland kind of misses the drug warrior types.

"I hope they come," he said. "Everything they say sounds stupid now, and we have a president and an attorney general who said they would quit arresting people in medical states."

Indeed, it has been a low-key, low-budget affair on both sides of the issue. The organized opposition, Vote No on 13, has an amateurish web site themed around "Compassion Shouldn't Mean Addiction," and no apparent advertising budget. Its lead spokesman, Vermillion Police Chief Art Mabry, head of the South Dakota Police Chiefs' Association, is out of the office all month and unavailable for comment.

Maybe Mabry needed that time off. He wasn’t exactly on message in an interview 10 days ago with the Rapid City Journal. "I think it's going to pass, I think South Dakota people are a caring people," he said, adding that the pro campaign will "tug at the heartstrings" of voters.

Watertown Police Chief Jo Vitek, who will shortly replace Mabry as head of the chiefs' association, had a litany of problems with the measure. "The research on the efficacy of marijuana as medicine is limited," she told the Chronicle. "The FDA, along with most national medical associations, does not support smoked marijuana as medicine."

Vitek also expressed concerns about administrative costs, citing the need to conduct background checks on caregivers and policing compliance. "In a state where significant 'cutbacks' have been made to balance an already tight budget, will positions be created to address the aforementioned matters?," she asked. "Who will pay for this added expense?" 

That question has an answer. Section 28 of the initiative, which discusses administrative rule-making and regulations, says: "The rules shall establish application and renewal fees that generate revenue sufficient to offset all expenses of implementing and administering this Act."

 Vitek worried about drugged driving as well, asking "Will we also see a rise in the crime rate?"

And the chief expressed worry about "the health concerns of indoor marijuana grow operations," wondering whether caregivers would be required to meet code requirements, whether they would have to disclose their grows to their neighbors, and whether they would be required to have their homes inspected for black mold before selling them. 

Vitek said the chief's' association had put $2,500 into the effort to defeat Measure 13. That's not a lot of money, even in South Dakota, but law enforcement has other means of influencing voters. Last week, the South Dakota Highway Patrol issued a statement noting what it called a trend toward highway drug busts of people carrying medical marijuana cards from other states. It counted seven incidents.

"That was clearly a political maneuver out of bounds with what the department should be doing," said an indignant Emmit Reistroffer, who has been the driving force behind the campaign during Newland's enforced absence. "We have one of the most popular east-west interstates in the country, and of course there will be some marijuana coming across. But no state allows licensed growers to take their product out of state, so pointing fingers at a handful of incidents where somebody abuses the program is really taking it out of context. I'm really disappointed," he said.

"I'm biting my nails," said Reistroffer. "We are working hard as hell, we've had some huge rallies in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, we've had patients in the newspapers, we're really pushing this grassroots style," he said from a cell phone as he canvassed voters door-to-door.

But the campaign doesn't have any money and, unlike two years ago, election dynamics are not working in the campaign's favor. Energized Republicans are expected to come out in large numbers in a bid to defeat Democratic incumbent US Rep. Stephenie Herseth-Sandlin, and a measure regarding public cigarette smoking is also on the ballot.

"We're really struggling for funds, and we're going to have to pull this off in the most grassroots way imaginable," said Reistroffer. "This could have passed easily in 2008 because of the surge of voters then, but we expect a much smaller turnout this year."

Now, barring last-minute explosive revelations, the die is largely cast. Neither side has the money for a late media campaign. Early and absentee voting has already begun, and it all comes down to getting out the vote.

United States

SurveyUSA: Prop 19 Ahead 48% to 44%

Proposition 19, the initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana in California, is maintaining a narrow lead, according to poll results released Wednesday by SurveyUSA. The poll of 621 likely and actual voters (early voting started two weeks ago) was taken between Friday and Sunday and had the initiative leading 48% to 44%, with 8% undecided.

[Editor's Note: A Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday night had contrary results. It was too late for this week's Chronicle, but you can read about it here.]


Election Day not far away
The findings are roughly in line with more than a dozen other polls taken on Prop 19 this year, all but four of which have the measure leading. According to the Talking Points Memo Polltracker, the average of all polls has Prop 19 leading 46.8% to 44.5%. The polltracker, however, has not been updated with this latest SurveyUSA poll. Once it is, support will increase slightly, while opposition will decrease slightly.

SurveyUSA has done six polls on Prop 19, and they show support declining slightly from 50% in the earliest surveys. They also show opposition rising slightly. It was at 40% in July, peaked at 43% in September, then declined to 41% early this month before rising to 44% in the current poll.

With a four percent margin of error, this latest SurveyUSA poll shows a very tight race indeed. With undecideds beginning a not unexpected peeling off toward a "no" vote, voter turnout is going to be key to victory on November 2.

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Help Legalize Marijuana in CA

We Are Drug Policy Action.

Call California voters today and urge them to vote "Yes" on Prop. 19.

Take Action!

Dear friends,

We're closer than ever to winning the fight against marijuana prohibition.

On November 2nd, Californians will vote on Proposition 19, which would legalize personal possession of marijuana for adults and allow cities and counties to regulate its sale.

Right now, polls indicate that Prop. 19 has a good chance of passing. But the fight is so close that voter turnout will make all the difference. That's why we need you to call California mail-in voters today and urge them to vote "Yes" on Prop. 19.

California has a long history of setting legal precedents that other states follow. That means that even though you live in District of Columbia, Prop. 19 is a big deal. If marijuana is legalized in California, there's a better chance it will be legalized in District of Columbia.

The battle is close, and to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition we need to make sure Californians vote.Click here to make a few calls today and bring us to victory on November 2nd!

Even if you've never called voters before, our friends at the Yes on 19 campaign created a tool that makes it easy. Just click here to sign up to their phonebank. After you do, you'll be given the number of a mail-in voter and a script that will guide you through the process.

We have a real chance at getting marijuana legalized in California. Your help today is crucial in making it happen.


Stephen Gutwillig
State Director, California
Drug Policy Action

United States

Los Angeles Times Hasn't Learned Anything After 14 Years of Legal Medical Marijuana

The mindless incoherence of Prop 19's opposition is really kicking into full-gear following Attorney General Eric Holder's statement that he'll continue to enforce federal law if California legalizes marijuana. LA Times is so intimidated by Holder that I can only assume they believe he possesses super powers or commands a vast army of narco-clone-soldiers capable of capturing every casual user in California:

If California voters were still under the illusion that Proposition 19  would legalize marijuana, U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. sought to disabuse them of the notion last week. "We will vigorously enforce the [federal Controlled Substances Act] against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use…

If the proposition is approved, the result would be a legal morass. DEA raids would nab Californians who think they're complying with the law, only to face federal penalties.

There's no need for a battle with Washington that the state is unlikely to win.

Los Angeles dispensary map (
It's really remarkable to watch the LA Times cowering in awe of the exact same federal powers that have been proven impotent before their eyes for more than a decade during the failed federal war on medical marijuana. Where were the editors of the LA Times when the city became overrun with dispensaries during the Bush Administration? They were reporting the damn news. They ought to be the foremost experts on the practical limitations of federal drug enforcement.

How far up your ass does your head have to be stuck to actually believe California is "unlikely to win" a fight with the federal government over marijuana policy? California has been winning that battle for more than ten years. LA Times is literally suggesting that Obama and Eric Holder are more determined opponents of marijuana reform than George Bush and John Ashcroft, which has got to be some of the worst analysis of marijuana policy ever put in print. It was Eric Holder himself who issued a memo calling on federal agents to find something better to do than bother dispensaries. How could anyone be dumb enough to believe he'll now turn around and begin busting hippies for simple possession?

Amazingly, it has yet to become obvious to everyone that the reason the feds failed to shut down medical marijuana in California is because they don't have the resources to do that. There aren't enough agents to make the cases, enough courtrooms to hold the trials, or even enough sunglasses to hide their eyes, and if they couldn't control the medical marijuana situation, please explain to me how the hell they would deal with a law legalizing all adult use. I shouldn’t have to explain this. Just picture for yourself the size of California's pot-smoking population, tucked into every nook and cranny from Orange County to Arcata, and imagine the magnitude of the army it would take kill their buzz after the state stops making arrests.

If Prop 19 passes, there's nothing Holder, Obama, the DEA, or even the entire U.S. military can do to stop it. That's exactly why its opponents are willing to do anything, even rewrite history, in their desperation to confuse voters and obstruct the surging momentum of the movement for reform.

Fox News Poll: Prop 19 Marijuana Initiative in Dead Heat

California's Proposition 19 tax and regulate marijuana legalization initiative is in a statistical dead heat, according to a Fox News Poll released Tuesday. The poll, taken last Friday, had the electorate split 47-46 against the measure, well within the poll's three-point margin of error.

Fox released no cross-tabs, so there are no breakdowns by race, age, gender, political party, ideology, or location.

The poll showed both Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown and Democratic US senate candidate Barbara Boxer pulling ahead of Republican challengers Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina. Other polls have shown strong support for Prop 19 among Democratic voters, even though Brown, Boxer, and most Democratic elected officials oppose the initiative. If a Brown/Boxer surge reflects improved prospects for Democratic turnout, that would be good news for Prop 19, which is favored 2-1 among Democratic voters but opposed by the same margin by Republicans.

Even with the Fox News Poll showing Prop 19 trailing by one and a Reuters/Ipsos poll two weeks ago showing it trailing by 10, the Talking Points Memo Polltracker average of all polls this year still shows Prop 19 leading by 46.8% to 44.5%. Of all the polls conducted since the beginning of September, only the Reuters/Ipsos poll showed it losing. All the other polls showed Prop 19 in the lead, although only one of them had it over 50%.

Get out the vote efforts will be critical between now and November 2, just two weeks from now. To get involved, visit  our latest action alert and follow the links. You don't need to be in California to volunteer for Prop 19; all you need is a phone.

United States

California Beer & Beverage Distributors Don't Speak for Us

United States

Former Surgeon General Calls for Marijuana Legalization

United States
Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders told CNN she supports legalizing marijuana. "What I think is horrible about all of this, is that we criminalize young people. And we use so many of our excellent resources ... for things that aren't really causing any problems," said Elders. "It's not a toxic substance."

Libertarian Party Chair Endorses California Prop 19

United States
Libertarian Party Chair Mark Hinkle has endorsed Proposition 19 on the November ballot in California. Hinkle said, "I urge Californians to vote for Proposition 19. The War on Drugs has created tremendous damage in California and throughout America, and this will help stop that damage. A vote for Prop 19 is a vote for justice and common sense."
Independent Political Report

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