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WA State Voters Split on Marijuana Legalization

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #701)
Drug War Issues

Washington state voters are evenly divided on the question of marijuana legalization, according to a poll released Monday. The Strategies 360 Washington Voter Survey found that of likely voters surveyed, 46% supported pot legalization and 46% opposed it.

The poll comes as advocates organized as New Approach Washington are in the midst of a signature-gathering campaign to place a legalization initiative, I-502, on the November 2012 general election ballot.

Polls conducted earlier this year did better. In July, an Elway poll had 30% "definitely supporting" legalization, with another 24% "inclined to support, but need[ing] to know more" -- a possible majority, but within the poll's +/- 5% margin of error. In January, as lawmakers considered bills that would decriminalize or legalize pot, KING5/SurveyUSA poll had 56% of respondents saying they thought legalization was a good idea, with 54% saying they thought lawmakers should allow marijuana to be sold at state-run liquor stores with the proceeds taxed.

The conventional wisdom among initiative campaign veterans is that a measure should start out polling at 60% or more to have a likelihood of breaking 50% on Election Day. For I-502 to start at 60%, its specific wording and title will have to win over some voters who responded negatively to these more general polls. Its ability to do so may in turn influence funders' willingness to support it. On the flip side, there is more than a year to go, and pro-legalization polling has continued to increase in most recent years.

In the current poll, marijuana legalization had its highest level of support among 2008 Obama voters (60%), Democrats or leaning Democratic (59%), independents (56%), King County and North Puget Sound residents (54%), and non-whites (51%).

The strongest opposition to legalization came from Republican and Republican leaning voters and 2008 McCain supporters (69%), Eastern Washington residents (59%), women (54%), and Western Washington residents (excluding King County and North Puget Sound) (52%).

The poll was conducted via telephone on September 11 through 14. It surveyed 500 Washington state residents who indicated they were likely to vote in the November 2012 election and included 400 who indicated they were likely to vote in the November 2011 election. The margin of error was +/- 4.4% for the 500-person sample and greater for subsamples.

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.


Arnold (not verified)

The numbers just aren't very encouraging. Most polls show that America in general is split about 50/50 on this issue, and its great that so many people want legalization. However, to think that so many would continue prohibition makes me seriously doubt America in general. How the hell can any support such a violation of civil liberties? Why is it that the numbers have to be near 60/40 for legalization to occur? It should only be 40/60, because this is an issue where for the past century a majority decides what a minority can and cannot do. How is it even constitutional for congress or any part of the FED to legislate on any social issue in the first place?

Tue, 09/20/2011 - 10:40am Permalink
Phil of the future (not verified)

Arnold. I'm as perplexed as you are. Future generations will look back on this prohibition with the same disbelief as we do now with slavery.
Tue, 09/20/2011 - 11:38am Permalink
Heather Renfrew (not verified)

I don't mind placing my whole name on this post, and I'll tell you why. I am not afraid. Speaking up for what you believe in is not a crime. I support the legaliztion of marijauana. I support medical marijuana and the use of industrial hemp in the United States.

If more people remembered that they live in the United States, where the freedom of speech is protected, we might hear their honest opinion more often. Americans need to remember how to make the political system work for the people again. I participate in polls. I sign petitions. I write letters to my representatives. Most importantly, I vote.

Tue, 09/20/2011 - 12:10pm Permalink

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