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Polls Split on California Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #640)
Drug War Issues

Two California public opinion polls, one released Friday and one released Monday, are at odds as to whether the Tax and Regulate Cannabis marijuana legalization initiative (now known officially as Proposition 19) has the support of Golden State voters. The confused polling results suggest a race that will be very tight.

On Friday, the Field Poll reported that only 44% supported the initiative, while 48% opposed it and 8% were undecided. But that was followed on Monday by a SurveyUSA poll that found 50% supported the initiative, 40% opposed it, and 11% were undecided. (The numbers don't add up because of rounding.)

The sampling margin of error for the SurveyUSA today poll was +/- 4%, while the margin of error for the Field poll was +/- 3.2% overall and +/- 5.5% for its population subsamples. Again, given the small gap between support and opposition and the margin for error, the polling suggests a very tight race indeed.

Proposition 19 would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the growing of a garden of 25 square feet by adults anywhere in California. It would also provide counties and municipalities with the local option to allow, tax, and regulate marijuana sales and production. If it wins in November, it would be the first time the voters of any state have voted to legalize marijuana.

The SurveyUSA poll showed majority support for the initiative among moderates (53%), liberals (69%), college graduates (54%), and people who make less than $40,000 a year (54%) or more than $80,000 a year (53%). The Field poll showed majority support among Democrats (53%), young voters (52%), young whites (53%), and middle aged whites (51%).

There are discrepancies between the two polls, especially when it comes to support by race and by geographic region. The SurveyUSA poll found majority support for the initiative among whites (50%), blacks (52%), and Asians (53%), with only Hispanics (46%) failing to get on board. But the Field poll was significantly lower, especially among non-whites. It showed majority support among no ethnic groups, with support at 48% for whites, 40% for blacks, 33% for Asians, and 36% among Hispanics.

Similarly, the Field poll shows majority support only in the San Francisco Bay area (53%), while the SurveyUSA poll shows majority support there (53%) and in the Greater Los Angeles area (54%). The Field poll had support for the initiative at only 46% in Los Angeles County, 46% in the Inland Empire, and 39% in San Diego County.

There has been some speculation that differences in polling techniques could account for the differences. The SurveyUSA poll is an automatic poll conducted by telephone with automated questions and response prompts, while the Field poll is conducted by a live interviewer. It has been suggested that some respondents may be embarrassed to tell a live interviewer they support legalization.

We are less than four months out now. This is going to get very interesting.

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.


Kathryn Porter (not verified)

In reply to by CANNABISLEGAL (not verified)

My boyfriend was in jail for a DUI ticket he received 1 1/2 years ago. He was given 40 days in jail but said he could not handle it. He did have a drinking problem from many deaths in his family that he was trying to releave the pain from. The jails are so over loaded with people with drug and alcohol problems, most of them are trying to relieve the pain of some childhood or other trauma. These people are not criminals they are sick, they need help. Why are they putting these people in jail and because of the over load letting real criminals out early?

My boyfriend needed medical help and could not handle the abuse he received from crying alot. He hung himself and I've lost him forever. He was such a beautiful person, an artist and the best friend I've ever had. Why are they treating people with addictions like criminals when it's a medical condition? Cannabis is so much safer then Alcohol.

Sat, 07/17/2010 - 2:24pm Permalink

There are so many reasons to support California Proposition 19 that we sometime forget some of them. A YES vote on Prop 19 will have the following benefits:

  • Reduce violence and crime
  • Reduce racially biased arrests
  • Generate $1.2B to $1.4B in taxes
  • Create 60,000 to 110,000 jobs
  • Reduce police corruption
  • Increase respect for police and the law
  • Free police to focus on property and violent crimes
  • Reduce prison costs and prison overcrowding
  • Expand California economy by $16 to $23 billion
  • Reduce drug cartels’ revenue
  • Reduce environmental damage from illegal grows
  • Allow adults to choose a safer alternative to alcohol

To read the studies documenting these outcomes, and to learn more about Prop 19, please visit

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 12:11pm Permalink

Many people are being quiet about their support for marijuana because it is currently illegal for recreational use. People are going to prison because of it.

Why would anyone admit that they are in favor of it while it's still illegal?

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 10:32pm Permalink
Kathryn Porter (not verified)

In reply to by Jose2 (not verified)

People are uneducated to the real history of marijuana, I believe with all my heart that God but this plant on earth for us to use for almost everything. Most people have no idea of the 25,000 or more different uses of this plant and believe the lies they hear on TV. Marijuana is a sacred plant but on earth by God and people need to be educated to the truth of the many uses and history of it. It is so wrong that people are going to prison for it, we must get people educated to the fact that big corporations stand to lose business if it was legalized, plastic for one, the hemp plant is biodigratable and could replace plastic.

Sat, 07/17/2010 - 2:49pm Permalink

Poll results can be damaging in such a tight race because unfortunately some people wont vote for a proposition they think is losing. This is an issue of personal freedom. Anyone who uses cannabis should vote on this one, medical license or not. NOT ONE MORE PERSON should ever be harrassed, detained, imprisoned or fined for their use of this beneficial plant!! See you at the polls in November.

Fri, 07/16/2010 - 11:51pm Permalink
Jean Boyd (not verified)

So far in the United States, you can not be imprisoned because you support legalization of pot.
Support legalization and say it loud. End the misery.

Sat, 07/17/2010 - 8:23am Permalink
SourD (not verified)

If the Governmentalization of cannabis passes in november, people will still be going to jail if they grow more than a tiny patch, people will still be harrassed, and cities are still free to ban sales or tax them back into the black market. We have all learned from Prop 215 that once these propositions are passed by the people, it is very difficult to change them. While this is great for 215, we will be stuck with tax and regulate for a long time, long after other states have properly legalized. Lets legalize but lets do it right once and for all... Until then VOTE NO FOR THE STATUS QUO

Thu, 07/22/2010 - 3:13pm Permalink

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