Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

May 25, 2010
Campaign polls for legalization initiative have dueling results

When it comes gauging voter attitudes on the November ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use for California, you can pretty much find a poll to your liking.

For those lukewarm or undecided on the initiative, there's last week's Public Policy Institute of California poll. It showed likely voters sharply split on the measure, with 49 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed.

Those opposed would find good news in the April 19 news release from Smith Johnson Research, the private polling firm for Public Safety First, the committee for opponents of legalization.

The Smith Johnson poll showed the initiative losing resoundingly, with 56.3 percent of voters inclined to vote "no" and 36.5 percent in favor.

"Voters clearly view this debate as significantly different than the debate over medical marijuana," concluded the lead pollster, Val Smith. "People tend to intuitively understand that full legalization is going to create problems in the workplace and on the roads."

People who favor the measure will be heartened by the report from EMC Research Inc., the polling firm for the Tax Cannabis 2010 campaign.

In a campaign memo May 19, EMC Research said 51 percent of voters who read the initiative title favored legalization and 40 percent were opposed. It said support increased to 52 percent among voters who read the ballot summary.

The memo by EMC principal Ruth Bernstein said, "Voters understand that the initiative will bring benefits to the state."

Based on her polling questions, Bernstein said 69 percent of voters "agree that the initiative 'will raise needed tax revenue' and 56 percent "believe the initiative 'is a more honest policy than the one we have now.'"

Take your pick.

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