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Public Opinion: California Support for Pot Legalization At 56% in New Poll

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #629)
Drug War Issues

A SurveyUSA poll conducted this week for a consortium of California television stations showed majority support for marijuana legalization. An initiative that would do just that, the Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, will be on the ballot in November.

The poll found that 56% of those surveyed responded affirmatively to the question, "Should the state of California legalize marijuana?" That's the same number as supported legalization in a Field poll a year ago this month. In this week's poll, only 42% answered negatively, with 3% undecided.

People under 35 supported legalization by a margin of three-to-one (74%-25%), with support declining to 46% among the 35-to-49 age group, rising to 49% among the 50-64 group, then declining again to 39% among those 65 and older. Among all voters under age 50, support was at 61%, while among those over 50, it dropped to 46%

The poll revealed a significant gender gap, with 65% of men supporting legalization, while a dramatically lower 46% of women supported it. That means legalization supporters will have to work to win over a key demographic.

There was majority support for legalization among all ethnic groups except Hispanics, of whom only 45% wanted to free the weed. Support was highest among blacks (67%), followed by whites (59%), and Asians (58%).

Somewhat surprisingly, there was majority support for legalization in all regions of the state, although only barely, except for the San Francisco Bay area, where support was at 65%. In Central California and the Inland Empire, support was at 54%, and in the Greater Los Angeles area, support was at 52%.

The poll was conducted Tuesday and involved interviews with 500 adults across the state. It has a margin of sampling error of plus/minus 4.4%.

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.


Bull (not verified)

It may be that the low Hispanic demographic is due to Roman Catholic influence in that community. If the priest says "no" to cannabis, it's likely the flock will follow.

Fri, 04/23/2010 - 2:50pm Permalink
Annonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Bull (not verified)

I agree. (i'm hispanic, btw). I think it's partly that, but it's also partly that there is a language barrier. The legalization debate in the english speaking world is much further along than in the spanish speaking world. Even with former latin american presidents being for it, and with decrim or partial decrim in several latin american countries, it just seems like it's taking much longer to sink in in latin america that legal drugs is a real, legitimate idea to consider. I imagine a lot of latinos in california might speak enough english to get by, but they are probably less aware of the issues being discussed around them. I've debated in forums in spanish about legalization (of which there are a lot less than in english), and you wouldn't believe how frustrating it is. People ridicule the idea and say you're crazy because you're addicted to drugs and things like that. And like you said, there's plenty of references to the church. Hopefully california legalizes, though, and after that, people will be more aware that legalization is real and that it's a good idea.

Fri, 04/23/2010 - 5:27pm Permalink
Leonard Krivit… (not verified)

There are certain hard scientific facts that would support the Legalization, but the "orthodox" addiction medicine establishment, being anything but independent from tight DEA control, is not nearly as forthcoming with this information as it should be for scientific integrity. As opposed to alcohol and most controlled prescription drugs, marijuana use has not been associated with one single case of fatal overdose, marijuana does not have a documented physical withdrawal, and its addiction liability is only 3% compared with 10% for alcohol and around 20% for opiates, both legal (morphine) and illegal (heroin). Cannabis use has been shown to reduce the violent crime (Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook, 4-th Edition, page 267). After working for years with seriously drug-addicted patients in Philadelphia, PA, I understand the scientific fallacy of classifying cannabis in the same group with heroin and cocaine. The so-called "gateway drug" theory is by now completely discredited, but this scientific fact is not widely advertised or known. At the same time, the medicinal properties of marijuana plant are by now so clearly beyond dispute, that even the "opponents" are no longer fully comfortable in repeating the old nonsense that the plant has "no medical benefits". Between 74 and 81% of Americans support legalization of marijuana for at least medical use. I know that whatever decision people make in the end (and I hope it will be to legalize this natural medicinal plant), they should make it with all the facts at their disposal.
Perhaps the whole situation regarding the legalization of marijuana can be summarized by quoting a true expert whose dedication to scientific truth is stronger than any disinformation the "opponents" can possibly offer:

"Cannabis will one day be seen as a wonder drug, as was penicillin in the 1940s. Like penicillin, herbal marijuana is remarkably nontoxic, has a wide range of therapeutic applications and would be quite inexpensive if it were legal". Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2006

Sat, 05/01/2010 - 10:29am Permalink

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