Skip to main content

Marijuana Legalization: California Poll of Primary Voters Finds Narrow Majority Say Keep It Illegal

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #607)
Drug War Issues

A poll released this week suggests backers of California marijuana legalization initiatives have their work cut out for them. The Capitol Weekly/Probolsky Research poll of 750 primary voters in late October found 52% wanted to keep marijuana illegal, while 38% supported legalization.

An April Field poll found that 56% of respondents supported legalization. But that support came in the context of a polling question about legalizing and taxing marijuana in the context of California's ongoing budget crisis. In that poll, respondents said they favored "legalizing marijuana for recreational use and taxing its proceeds."

The difference in poll questions influenced the way people responded, said poll director Adam Probolsky. "By saying there is a chance to help solve the budget crisis, you'd push some people toward making it legal," he said. "It makes it more palatable to people. If we had asked the same question, and said some studies show we'd have 10,000 more highway deaths, you'd push it the other way."

The two polls also sampled different voter pools. The Capitol Weekly poll was based on likely June primary voters, which is a smaller and more conservative group than general election or registered voters. The Field poll looked at registered voters.

While the poll may be a shot across the bow for legalization initiative organizers, it may not accurately predict how such a campaign will fare, Probolsky said. "This doesn't test the push messages -- closing the state budget gap versus the public safety messages," he said. "You need to test half a dozen of those pros and cons to see where the initiative lies."

When measured by party affiliation, only 25% of Republicans supported legalization, compared to 45% of Democrats and nearly 48% of voters who declined to state a party preference. Voters over 65 were most likely to oppose legalization, with 56% saying prohibition should continue. But that was only one point higher than the 55% of 18-to-34-year-olds.

The poll was taken the same week the Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF) held a hearing on his marijuana legalization bill at the state capitol in Sacramento. It also comes as petition-gatherers for at least three different legalization initiatives pound the pavement for signatures.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Let's fight back against the tyranny of the majority over the minority. We who favor legalization must become MORE VOCAL. Speak up for cannabis legalization in California. Visit

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 1:47pm Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

Probolsky's figure of "10,000 highway deaths" actually suggests what we could prevent if cannabis were legalized, because millions of drivers, especially youngsters, would then have something else to enjoy at the party instead of alcohol (the true WRECKCREATIONAL drug).

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 5:18pm Permalink
eco (not verified)

In reply to by maxwood (not verified)

No initiative that sounds like it was written by Libertarians will ever win. "Let's all get high publicly." But an initiative has a chance if it makes only possession of small amounts legal in order to save $25,000 per year per prisoner, and all the police time and paperwork for tens of thousands of arrests. And the campaign for the initiative should be based heavily on the Denver, Colorado initiative message that cannabis is safer than alcohol. Cannabis prohibition begins and ends with the "demon weed" image. That image must be aggressively deconstructed and laughed at. The Libertarian method is to mostly ignore the safety issue, and thereby accept the "demon weed" image. Libertarians then expect voters to agree with them that people have a right to use cannabis anyway.
Theatrical release poster:

It also makes more sense to do city initiatives first. As in Denver and Breckenridge, Colorado. Both of which passed. The statewide Colorado initiative lost. There is usually a higher percentage of conservatives in rural areas and smaller cities.

Sat, 11/07/2009 - 5:03am Permalink
MrCrzy VA (not verified)

Narrow Majority Say Keep It Illegal:

Of course keep illegal to keep the price up. Duh! $$$$$ vs. taxes to a needy state government. Makes economic sense to me but, then again I do not live in California.

Legalize it, the user will pay less, will get some kind of med card for carrying it on their person and the ability to grow your own weed for personal use. OR, get a license to grow commercially and continue to run your business (legal) not to worry about getting caught.

Sun, 11/08/2009 - 4:41pm Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

Thanks NAB go ahead and use it. (I googled and found some other users anyway.) Also try my favorite: Big Awgohel (or try your variant) is the Running Dog for Big 2Wackgo and both fear Cannabis!

Mon, 11/09/2009 - 8:23pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.