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Gary Johnson Supporters Robocall Colorado Democrats Over Marijuana Crackdown

Colorado is a tightly-contested swing state. According to the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, Republican challenger Mitt Romney holds a vanishingly narrow lead over President Obama of 47.8% to 47.6%. In a national election that appears to be growing tighter in the final weeks, Colorado could end up deciding who wins.

Gary Johnson
It is also a state where there are two reasons marijuana is at play as a political issue. Most significantly, it is the site of the Amendment 64 Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol legalization campaign, which maintains a shrinking lead in recent polls, and which has generated reams of media coverage in recent weeks. But it is also one of the medical marijuana states that have seen their dispensary systems threatened by heavy-handed federal interventions, which has generated ill-feeling toward the Obama administration in some quarters.

And it is a state where Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of neighboring New Mexico, is making a strong push, with marijuana legalization and marijuana policy as one of his strongest talking points. Johnson isn't included in those polls mentioned above, but when pollsters do bother to include him, as Public Policy Polling did last month and Politico did this month, he's bringing in about 5% of the vote -- and he takes three votes away from Obama for every two he takes from Romney. [Update: The latest PPP poll, released Monday, shows Johnson taking away slightly more from Romney than Obama.]

Democrats may have been hoping that turnout by supporters of marijuana legalization would help them cruise to victory in Colorado, but Johnson is doing his best to separate those voters from the Democrats who hope to own them. Johnson has been stumping feverishly on legalization, and his campaign has smartly used all the attention paid to the initiative to generate attention for his position and his candidacy.

Now, as David Sirota points out in an excellent analysis of pot and presidential politics in Colorado in Salon, things have escalated, with pro-Johnson robo-call ads identified with the Utah-based libertarian think tank the Libertas Institute going out to Democratic voters with a message that should be chilling for Democrats:

"Hello, fellow Democrat," a friendly male voice says. "Like you I was thrilled to vote for Barack Obama in 2008. In 2008, candidate Obama promised not to use the Justice Department to prosecute medical marijuana in states where it was legal. But the real Obama did just that, more than doubling prosecutions, putting people in prisons and shutting down medical marijuana facilities in Colorado. That's not the change you wanted on health freedom. But you can still be a force for hope and change by voting for Gary Johnson."

Could Gary Johnson peel off enough voters disenchanted with the Obama administration's medical marijuana stance and motivated by a chance to vote for marijuana legalization to throw the state, and just possibly, the national election, to Romney? We will know in less than two weeks.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

CO
United States

Colorado Marijuana Measure Sees Lead Shrink in New Poll

A SurveyUSA poll released Sunday shows Colorado's marijuana legalization initiative, Amendment 64, still winning, but with a shrinking lead and with approval under 50%. A University of Denver poll released a week earlier had Amendment 64 right at 50%. These latest polls only add to the sense that the marijuana legalization vote in Colorado is going to be a nail-biter.

The SurveyUSA poll had support for Amendment 64 at 48%, with those opposed at 43%, and 9% undecided. That's a five-point lead, down from 11 points in a SurveyUSA poll done five weeks ago.

According to the latest poll, the initiative is losing support among women, who five weeks ago favored it by 10 points, but now oppose it by eight. It is also losing support among people with a college degree, who favored it by nine points five weeks ago, but now oppose it by five. It is also losing ground among upper-income voters.

The erosion of support for drug reform initiatives in the final weeks of a campaign is not unexpected. Voters begin to finally pay attention as the campaign season goes into its frantic final weeks, and the opposition gears up its efforts to defeat them. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, though, has a pre-paid $700,000 advertising campaign ready to go and is aiming to win over those groups where support is weakening.

The latest SurveyUSA poll also had President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a virtual dead heat, with Romney winning 48% to 47% head-to-head and 46% to 45% in a three-way race that includes Libertarian Gary Johnson polling at 2%. Johnson supports marijuana legalization, and some reform activists have been hoping that he will pull pro-legalization voters away from the major party candidates, but this poll doesn't suggest that is the case.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

CO
United States

British Columbia Local Governments Call for Marijuana Decriminalization

Municipal leaders across British Columbia last week endorsed a resolution calling for the decriminalization of marijuana. The move came at the meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, which has represented the interests of BC local governments for more than a century.

"Whereas marijuana prohibition is a failed policy which has cost millions of dollars in police, court, jail and social costs; and whereas the decriminalization and regulation of marijuana would provide tax revenues," the resolution read, "therefore be it resolved that UBCM call on the appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research the regulation and taxation of marijuana."

The "appropriate government," of course, would be the federal government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, which has made it clear it is not interested in decriminalization and earlier this year toughened criminal penalties for some marijuana cultivation offenses. But former BC Attorney General Geoff Plant was among those urging delegates to send a message to Ottawa.

The municipalities should support the resolution to join a "growing chorus of voices" across the country to show Harper that "people are calling for change," he said in remarks reported by the Vancouver Sun.

"This shows that although this is a federal law, it's municipalities that bear the brunt of paying for those laws," marijuana activist Dana Larsen said after the vote. "When we're talking about decriminalization, you want to take the major users off the front lines in the war on drugs."

Larsen is leading his own effort to decriminalize in BC. He is laying the groundwork for doing a decriminalization initiative signature drive a year from now.

Dr. Evan Wood, professor of medicine at the University of BC, said the vote was "a symbolic gesture" toward ending a black market that sees $2.7 billion annually goes organized crime.

"It will have a profound impact on BC," he said. "We have been living with the violent, unintended consequences of marijuana [prohibition]. It's certainly not too late. It's absurd we've been flushing time and money down the toilet… this decision is long overdue."

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of voters across Canada support marijuana decriminalization, according to a July Reid Ipsos poll. In BC, that figures rises to 69%.

BC
Canada

Montana Medical Marijuana Restriction Initiative Trailing

An effort to undo a more restrictive medical marijuana law in Montana faces an uphill battle, according to a poll done last week. The Mason Dixon poll had the medical marijuana reform effort trailing 31% to 44%, with 25% undecided. The good news is that in order for the new, restrictive law to stay in effect, it must get 50% of the vote plus one.

This is a bit tricky for outside observers. The initiative, Initiative Referendum 124, asks voters if they want to approve Senate Bill 423, which was passed by the Republican-dominated legislature last year and eviscerated the state's then-thriving medical marijuana distribution industry. A "yes" vote means voters want to keep the new, more restrictive law, while a "no" vote means they want to return to the status quo embodied in the voter-approved 2004 medical marijuana initiative. SB 423 repealed large swathes of the 2004 law.

So, that's 44% saying yes, keep the new, more restrictive law and only 31% saying the original 2004 law should be put back in place.

Legislative Republicans cited a rapid increase in the number of medical marijuana cardholders, large grow operations, and the proliferation of dispensaries in first attempting to repeal the medical marijuana law outright. Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) vetoed that first effort, but when the legislature passed SB 423, he let it go into effect without his signature.

Calling the new law a travesty that gutted their program, medical marijuana supporters gathered more than 35,000 signatures and managed to qualify for the ballot late last year.

Now they have their work cut out for them. Republicans back the initiative by 52% to 31%, independents by 46% to 31%, and even Democrats back it 33% to 32%. Similarly, both men (46% to 37%) and women (42% to 25%) back endorsing the new, restrictive law.

Still, six weeks out from Election Day, there is not a majority in support of IR-124, and there are still a large number of undecideds. That means Patients for Reform Not Repeal and other supporters of the original law could still emerge victorious. IR-124 must get 50% plus one to win, and initiatives polling below that this late in the game are in danger of losing, as Bob Brigham, the group's campaign manager noted.

"Historically, ballot measures that don't start near 60% support are in danger of failing," he noted. "IR-124 doesn't even hit 50%. That's a bad sign for the legislature's proposal, especially if we do our job and explain to voters why they should vote against this 'godawful' law."

MT
United States

Oregon Marijuana Initiative Trailing Slightly in Poll

The campaign behind an initiative that would legalize marijuana in Oregon has an uphill battle ahead, according to a new SurveyUSA poll. That poll has the initiative, known as Measure 80 on the ballot, trailing by a margin of 41% to 37%.

But SurveyUSA reported a margin of error on the poll of +/-4%, meaning that the contest is a virtual dead heat and, as Portland's KATU-TV, which paid for the poll, put it, "it could go either way."

Campaign supporters can also take some solace in the high number of undecided voters. More than one out of five (22%) of those surveyed had yet to make up their minds, meaning the Amendment 80 campaign still has time to attempt to bring them over to its side.

Paralleling polling date from the other 2012 marijuana legalization initiative states, the poll found a significant gap in support between men (42%) and women (33%). Likewise, among age groups, support was strongest among the 18-to-34 group (47%), followed by 50-to-64 (39%), 35-to-49 (36%), and then those over 65 (24%).

As in the other initiative states, the data appears to suggest that parents -- and especially mothers -- with children at home will be a crucial demographic to be won over if the initiative is to succeed. Compared with its brethren in Colorado and Washington, the Oregon campaign has been a low-budget affair, but these polling numbers suggest a healthy cash injection could be critical, especially in swaying the large undecided vote.

Colorado Marijuana Legalization Measure Polls 51%

The latest poll, released Saturday by SurveyUSA for the Denver Post, has Colorado's marijuana legalization initiative at 51%, with 40% opposed and 8% undecided. The initiative, Amendment 64, would legalize the possession of up to an ounce and six plants by adults 21 and over and allow for state-regulated commercial cultivation and sales.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is targeting its message toward wary parents. (regulatemarijuana.org)
While in line with other recent polls, the SurveyUSA/Denver Post poll marks the first time in recent months that support for the initiative has broken 50% except for an outlier June Rasmussen poll that had support at 61%. The Talking Points Memo's PollTracker Average, which includes this latest poll, currently shows 49.7% for Amendment 64, with 39.3% opposed.

The poll found stronger support among men (53%) than women (49%), with 12% of women saying they were still undecided compared to 5% of men.

When it came to support by age group, support was highest among the 18-to-34 group (61%), followed by the 50-to-64 group (58%). But support declined below 50% for the 35-to-49 group (44%) and those 65 and older (37%).

The numbers suggest that parents with young children and especially mothers remain a weak spot for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. In its early advertising, the campaign has been targeting that demographic.

While the poll numbers are good, they also suggest this will be a very close contest. In 2010, California's Proposition 19 was polling at 52% three months before the election, but it ended up losing with only 46% of the vote.

A similar measure was on the ballot in Colorado in 2006, but it lost 59% to 41%.

The SurveyUSA/Denver Post poll was conducted between September 9 and 12 and relied on automated calls. It has a margin of error of +/- 4%.

CO
United States

Washington Marijuana Legalization Measure Polling Strong

A solid majority of Washington voters approve of Initiative 502, the marijuana legalization measure sponsored by New Approach Washington, according to a SurveyUSA poll released this week. The poll had support for the initiative at 57%, with 34% opposed.

The initiative would legalize and regulate the cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana by adults 21 and over. Similar measures are on the ballot in Colorado and Oregon.

The level of support for the initiative is higher than a Public Policy Polling survey in June, which had support at 54% and opposition at 37%.

Campaign organizers can take some comfort in the numbers, which show an absolute majority in favor of the initiative. It's one thing to be leading in a poll, but unable to crack the 50% mark; it's another to go comfortably over 50%. If the campaign can keep its numbers from slipping in the final weeks, it appears poised for victory.

The poll's cross-tabs show almost identical levels of support among men (58%) and women (57%), while every age group except the 65-and-older (45%) also shows majority support. The initiative polled strongly with whites (60%), but not so much with Hispanics (47%) or Asians (42%). Whites make up 80% of the Washington electorate.

Democrats (70%) and independents (62%) strongly support the measure, while only one-third (33%) of Republicans do. Similarly, the measure wins majority support among liberals (76%) moderates (63%), and Tea Party members (!) (54%), but not among conservatives (33%).

SurveyUSA contacted 700 Washington residents last week and identified 524 of them as likely voters. The poll was conducted by telephone, using both cell phones and land lines.

Just a little more than a month and a half from election day, Initiative 502 is sitting pretty. It also has a lot of money in the bank and little sign of organized opposition. It could happen this year in Washington state.

WA
United States

Colorado Marijuana Legalization Initiative Maintains Nine-Point Lead

Two months out from election day, positions appear to be hardening in the battle over legalizing marijuana in Colorado. A new Public Policy Polling survey shows Amendment 64, which would legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol, maintaining the same nine-point lead it held last month.

Amendment 64 ad aims to reassure parents about teen marijuana use.
According to the poll results, both support -- at 47% -- and opposition -- at 38% -- remain unchanged. That's both good and not so good news for the legalization campaign. The good news is that the initiative remains ahead; the not so good news is that it isn't above 50%. But undecided voters would have to break 4-1 against the initiative for it to fail, if all of them vote yes or now and if the PPP numbers hold up.

PPP noted that the ballot language could be somewhat confusing, so it also asked a general question about marijuana legalization. That polled slightly higher, with 49% saying they approved and 43% saying they didn't.

That 43% who oppose marijuana legalization in general will likely represent the minimum "no" vote in November. Now, the initiative campaign must maintain the support it currently has while picking up some of those 15% of the voters who are undecided.

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