Friday, March 16, 2018
The title of this post is the title of this interesting new piece authored by Loren Collingwood, Ben Gonzalez O’Brien and Sarah Dreier published int The International Journal of Drug Policy. Here is the abstract:
In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first U.S. states to legalise recreational marijuana. By 2016, eight states and the District of Columbia had legalised recreational marijuana, with more expected to consider it in 2018. Despite this trend, little academic research explains what drives ballot-initiative vote choice on marijuana legalisation.
This paper uses a pre-election random sample voter survey to examine the individual characteristics that correlated with Washington voters’ support for legal recreational marijuana.
We find that voting on marijuana ballot initiatives largely reflects public opinion about marijuana and is particularly shaped voters’ political ideology, party affiliation, religious affiliation and practice, and education. Notably, we find that those reporting experiences (i.e., someone they know) with the criminal justice system are more supportive of legalisation than those who do not.
We conclude that marijuana legalisation voting behavior generally aligns with public opinion on the issue. However, one key aspect of Washington’s legalisation campaign–the criminal injustices of marijuana illegality–helped shape Washington state voting behavior. Further research is needed to examine if, when, and in what contexts criminal justice campaign themes are likely to strengthen or undermine future states’ marijuana legalisation efforts.
March 16, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
Noticing that some politicians are finally noticing that marijuana reform could be winning political issue
Long-time readers know I have often posted articles and commentaries suggesting that politicians would be wise to see the potential to attract younger and independent voters by showing interest in marijuana reform. This new Politico article suggest some folks running for Congress are finally getting this message. The full headline of the lengthy piece highlights its themes: "These Red-State Democrats Think Legal Marijuana Can Help Them Win: With sky-high approval rates, pot is an issue challengers say will cure the Democratic malaise in Trump country." Here are excerpts that everyone interested in the politics of marijuana reform should read in full:
Not so long ago — like maybe last cycle — a Democratic challenger in a state this conservative wouldn’t have been caught dead making an unqualified endorsement of a drug federal authorities still consider as dangerous as heroin by categorizing it as Schedule 1. But attitudes about marijuana, not to mention state laws, have changed so quickly and so broadly across the country that Democrats even in deeply red states like Indiana not only don’t fear talking about the issue, they think it might be a key in 2018 to toppling Republican incumbents. The numbers, they say, are on their side, not the side of the politicians who either duck the subject or endorse Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ apparent desire to return federal marijuana policy back to the “Just Say No” days of the Reagan administration.
In a 2016 poll of Indiana residents, approval for medical marijuana was at 73 percent. In a state struggling, like so many others, with a massive opioid crisis, there’s been no sign that support for legalizing marijuana has waned. A 2012 survey from the Bowen Center of Public Affairs showed that 78 percent of Hoosiers supported taxing marijuana like alcohol and cigarettes, far above the 55 percent who supported then-governor Mike Pence — a sign that support for marijuana law reform in Indiana is no statistical blip. In fact, according to [congressional candidate Dan] Canon, it has only gotten stronger, and not just in blue bubbles like Bloomington but in rural and suburban communities, too. That’s why, in December, Canon released a web video ad declaring his stance clearly, “Here’s one simple solution that’s long overdue: We need to legalize medical marijuana nationwide.” He even got some international press out of it.
Subsequently, his chief primary opponent, law school professor Liz Watson, instead of criticizing Canon’s position, posted a detailed pro-medical marijuana position on her website to eliminate any daylight between her and Canon on this issue. “In Southern Indiana, we are battling a raging opioid epidemic. The last thing we need is for the federal government to punish people for turning to non-addictive alternatives to opioids,” she told POLITICO Magazine. “We also do not need the federal government restricting study into the medical uses of marijuana. Federal law currently categorizes marijuana as a Schedule 1 narcotic, along with heroin, while oxycodone is Schedule 2. That makes no sense.” Watson’s stance nearly guarantees that no matter who survives the primary to face Trey Hollingsworth in the general, the Democrat in the race will be on the record as in favor of medical marijuana.
The candidates of Indiana’s 9th are not alone in their desire to use marijuana as a rallying flag. House races in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, plus Senate races in Texas and Nevada all feature Democratic candidates who have taken strong stands in favor of changing the federal marijuana laws, and running against Republican incumbents who have not.
“There’s nationwide support for recreational marijuana, and support for medical marijuana is even higher than that,” Al Cross, the director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, told POLITICO Magazine. According to Cross, there’s not much difference in the support for marijuana legalization in rural Southern states than in the Western blue states more commonly associated with marijuana. “For some voters, marijuana could be a defining issue. We just don’t know how many that’s going to be yet.”...
It won’t be known for some months yet whether legalization has the power to take out sitting Republicans, but there’s no question that it is potent enough to change the complexion of primary races, at least in districts that have large college populations.
Take a look at what’s happening across the Ohio River from the Indiana 9th, in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district, which includes both the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University. The Democratic field to unseat the three-term Republican incumbent Andy Barr has developed into an interesting portrait of the current Democratic Party coalition: a black state senator, a female veteran, and a gay mayor. State Senator Reggie Thomas, who represents a portion of Lexington in the Kentucky Senate, was first in the race to come out in favor of medical marijuana. In a web video he states, “The evidence is clear. Medical marijuana helps those with chronic pain and other medical conditions.” In the same 60-second video, Thomas announced he was signing on as a co-sponsor of a medical marijuana bill in the state Senate. Asked by POLITICO Magazine if there was a campaign strategy associated with his advocacy of medical marijuana in order to differentiate himself from his primary opponents, Thomas wouldn’t take the bait, saying only that, “it’s just the right thing to do.”...
There are few places where marijuana politics are more exciting than in West Virginia, thanks to state senator (and retired U.S. Army major) Richard Ojeda, who is currently a candidate for Congress in West Virginia’s 3rd with a position on medical marijuana that has given him strong statewide name recognition. “Anyone with half a brain should know that marijuana should never be Schedule I,” Ojeda told POLITICO Magazine over the phone, sounding more like Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey than his own state’s Democratic senator, Joe Manchin.
Medical marijuana is as popular in West Virginia as Donald Trump. Nearly 68 percent of West Virginians voted for Trump in 2016, but after a year in office, the average of his 2017 approval rating according to the Gallup tracking poll has slid to 61 percent. Conversely, West Virginia’s acceptance of medical marijuana has risen from 61 percent in early 2017 to 67 percent today, according to an Orion Strategies poll released last month.
Not merely an advocate for medical marijuana, Ojeda (pronounced oh-JEH-dah) criticizes the federal law that requires mandatory prison sentences for criminal marijuana cultivation: “One to five years? That’s garbage,” he told me. Instead, Ojeda, 47, believes that outlaw marijuana growers shouldn’t go to prison at all. He thinks it should be a misdemeanor for a first offense, and that the harshest sentence for a repeat offender should be home confinement. Those positions were once far outside the Democratic Party mainstream, but it’s difficult for Ojeda’s opponents to characterize him as a liberal who is soft on crime when he served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2016, Ojeda ran for a West Virginia state Senate seat against a longtime incumbent Democrat and won the primary by 2,000 votes. In his opening act as a freshman legislator, Ojeda sponsored a medical marijuana bill and quarterbacked it through both chambers, making West Virginia the 29th state to legalize it. This was a stunning turn of events, even for marijuana advocacy groups, who had spent no money to support Ojeda’s effort. “There wasn’t a single penny spent, and we won,” Ojeda told POLITICO Magazine. “We did it because I got up and started speaking about it. And then the phone lines [in the legislature] lit up because the people of West Virginia know.”...
These red-state Democrats have found strong footing on a position to the left of their party’s leadership in Washington, D.C., and it seems to be working for them. None of them seem shaken by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent announcement he would end the Obama administration’s hands-off approach to prosecuting marijuana crimes in states that had legalized it. Ojeda told POLITICO Magazine: “I think we are on the verge of eventually voting in favor of marijuana [at the national level],”
February 6, 2018 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Friday, January 5, 2018
This new posting from the Pew Research Center, headlined "About six-in-ten Americans support marijuana legalization," provides this accounting of the latest survey (done back in October) on public opinion on marijuana reform:
About six-in-ten Americans (61%) say the use of marijuana should be legalized, reflecting a steady increase over the past decade, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The survey, conducted in October, finds that the share of U.S. adults who support marijuana legalization is little changed from about a year ago – when 57% favored it – but it is nearly double what it was in 2000 (31%).
As in the past, there are wide generational and partisan differences in views of marijuana legalization. Majorities of Millennials (70%), Gen Xers (66%) and Baby Boomers (56%) say the use of marijuana should be legal. Only among the Silent Generation does a greater share oppose (58%) than favor (35%) marijuana legalization.
Nearly seven-in-ten Democrats say marijuana use should be legal, as do 65% of independents. By contrast, just 43% of Republicans favor marijuana legalization, while 55% are opposed.
While both parties are divided along age lines in views of marijuana legalization, the differences are especially stark among Republicans.
Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, those younger than 40 favor legalizing marijuana use, 62% to 38%. Republicans ages 40 to 64 are divided (48% say it should be legal, 49% illegal), while those 65 and older oppose marijuana legalization by more than two-to-one (67% to 30%).
Sizable majorities of Democrats and Democratic leaners younger than 40 (79%) and 40 to 64 (70%) favor marijuana legalization. Older Democrats – those 65 and older – are more divided (50% favor legalization, 42% oppose it).
I have highlighted a few key demographic data points that strikes me as especially important politically now that Attorney General Sessions has rescinded the Cole Memo and essentially delegated federal enforcement priorities to individual US Attorneys. Any and every politician (or US Attorney) thinking about long-term political popularity must realize that young cohorts of voters in both parties are pretty strongly in favor of marijuana legalization. Acting as or even appearing supportive of any ardent foe of marijuana reform appears, based on this polling, carry some real political risks that seem likely to grow over time.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
This new posting from The American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, reports on a notable new survey showing notable support for marijuana reform from a notable population. The posting is headed "Survey shows veteran households support research of medical cannabis," and here is how is starts (with links from the original):
An independent public opinion research company conducted a nationwide survey about the opinions of veterans, their family members and caregivers on the issue of medical cannabis. See the survey results here.Learn more about The American Legion's push for research into medical cannabis here.
The results are significant and reinforce The American Legion’s continued efforts, under Resolution 11, to urge Congress to amend legislation to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and reclassify it, at a minimum, as a drug with potential medical value.
According to the survey – which included more than 1,300 respondents and achieved a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level – 92 percent of veteran households support research into the efficacy of medical cannabis for mental and physical conditions.
Eighty-three percent of veteran households surveyed indicated that they believe the federal government should legalize medical cannabis nationwide, and 82 percent indicated that they would want to have medical cannabis as a federally-legal treatment option, the survey says.
In January 2017, the National Academy of medicine released a review of more than 10,000 scientific abstracts and found substantial evidence to support the idea that cannabis was effective in treating chronic pain, reducing spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis patients, and reducing symptoms of chemotherapy-induced nausea. The American Legion calls on the federal government to confirm or deny the validity of these studies.
In August during the Legion’s national convention in Reno, Nev., Resolution 28 was passed, which calls on the federal government to allow medical providers within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss medical cannabis as a treatment option in states where medical marijuana is legal.
VA officials report that about 60 percent of veterans returning from combat deployments and 50 percent of older veterans suffer from chronic pain compared to 30 percent of Americans nationwide.
Many veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain – especially those of the Iraq and Afghanistan generation – have told The American Legion that they have achieved improved health care outcomes by foregoing VA-prescribed opioids in favor of medical cannabis. While the stories of these wartime veterans are compelling, more research must be done in order to enable lawmakers to have a fact-based debate on future drug policy.
The survey also showed that 22 percent of veterans are currently using cannabis to treat a medical condition.
The opioid crisis in America is having a disproportionate impact on our veterans, according to a 2011 study of the VA system, as they contend with the facts that poorly-treated chronic pain increases suicide risk, and veterans are twice as likely to succumb to accidental opioid overdoses. Traumatic brain injury and PTSD remain leading causes of death and disability within the veteran community, according to Lou Celli, director of the Legion's Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division.
Here are some highlights from the survey:
92 percent of all veterans support research into medical cannabis.
83 percent of all veteran households support legalizing medical cannabis.
Support for medical cannabis research is consistent nationwide, across ages, gender, political affiliation and geography.
60 percent of respondents do not live in states where medical cannabis is currently legal.
79 percent of respondents aged 60+ supported federally legalized medical cannabis.
22 percent of veterans stated they are currently using cannabis to treat a medical condition.
40 percent of caregivers stated they know a veteran who is using medical cannabis to alleviate a medical condition.
Friday, October 27, 2017
The title of this post is the headline of this notable new FiveThirtyEight posting by Harry Enten. Here is an excerpt (with my emphasis added):
A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that a record high 64 percent of Americans favor legalizing marijuana. It follows other surveys published this year also showing that a clear majority of Americans support making marijuana consumption legal. But what’s most interesting about the Gallup survey is that it found that a majority of Americans of all political stripes are for legalization. Gallup found that 72 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of independents and 51 percent of Republicans support marijuana becoming legal.
This makes marijuana one of the least polarized issues of our time (and one that some political party might be smart to take advantage of). Issues such as abortion, gun control and health care find Democrats and Republicans so far apart that it’s hard to win over many voters of the other party when adopting a stance popular with your own party’s voters. Marijuana isn’t that way.
And yet, despite the clear bipartisan appeal of marijuana, it has only been approved for recreational use in eight states and Washington, D.C. Neither Democrat Hillary Clinton nor Republican Donald Trump came out in favor of recreational marijuana purchases during the 2016 election. Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has actually taken a harder-line stance on marijuana than recent administrations, including criticizing states that have made it legal.
Democrats and Republicans might be slow to fully support recreational marijuana because, despite it being broadly popular, supporters don’t feel all that strongly about it. Only 31 percent of Americans “strongly” favored legalization in a 2016 PRRI poll, despite 63 percent being in favor overall. My own 2014 study of marijuana ballot measures suggested they don’t raise young voter turnout, even though young voters were the most likely to favor legalization. Just 28 percent of Americans told Marist College in March 2017 that they would be likely to buy and use marijuana if the federal government legalized it. (Of course, some people may be unwilling to tell a pollster this.)
Prior recent related post:
October 27, 2017 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Polling data and results, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (1)
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
As reported in this new posting from Gallup, "Americans continue to warm to legalizing marijuana, with 64% now saying its use should be made legal. This is the highest level of public support Gallup has found for the proposal in nearly a half-century of measurement." Here is more:
Gallup first asked national adults about their views on the topic in 1969, when 12% supported legalization. Support had more than doubled by the end of the next decade but changed little throughout the 1980s and 1990s. By 2001, however, about a third of Americans favored legalizing marijuana, and support has steadily increased since. A majority of Americans have consistently supported legalizing marijuana since 2013.
The trajectory of Americans' views on marijuana is similar to that of their views on same-sex marriage over the past couple of decades. On both issues, about a quarter supported legalization in the late 1990s, and today 64% favor each. Over the past several years, Gallup has found that Americans have become more liberal on a variety of social issues.
Democrats and independents have historically been much more likely than Republicans to say marijuana should be legalized. In 2009, Democrats were the first partisan group to see majority support for legalization, followed by independents in 2010. This year for the first time, a majority of Republicans express support for legalizing marijuana; the current 51% is up nine percentage points from last year.
As efforts to legalize marijuana at the state level continue to yield successes, public opinion, too, has shifted toward greater support. The Department of Justice under the current Republican administration has been perceived as hostile to state-level legalization. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions could find himself out of step with his own party if the current trends continue. Rank-and-file Republicans' views on the issue have evolved just as Democrats' and independents' have, though Republicans remain least likely to support legalizing pot.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 5-11, 2017, with a random sample of 1,028 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
This new CBS News item, headlined "Support for marijuana legalization at all-time high," reports on a notable new CBS News poll about marijuana policy and reform. Here are some details:
Sixty-one percent of Americans think marijuana use should be legal, a five-point increase from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded in this poll. Eighty-eight percent favor medical marijuana use.
Seventy-one percent oppose the federal government’s efforts to stop marijuana sales and its use in states that have legalized it, including opposition from most Republicans, Democrats, and independents.
Sixty-five percent think marijuana is less dangerous than most other drugs. And only 23 percent think legalizing marijuana leads to an increase violent crime.
More generally on the topic of drug abuse, 69 percent think that should be treated as an addiction and mental health problem rather than a criminal offense.
The belief that pot should be legal has reached a new high in CBS News polls. Sixty-one percent of Americans now say the it should be, a five-point increase from a year ago. This sentiment has increased each year we’ve measured it since 2013, with the turning point to majority support coming in 2014. Back in 1979, this poll found just 27 percent saying it should be legal.
Those over 65 are the most opposed to legalization, but most under age 65 support it. And women are now as much in favor of legal marijuana as men are; in previous years they were less so.
Many states have legalized pot in some form, and most Americans don’t think the federal government should try to stop its sale and use in those states. Even among those who think marijuana should be illegal, only half think the federal government should get involved with the states. This sentiment cuts across party lines: Majorities of Republicans (63 percent), Democrats (76 percent), and independents (72 percent) oppose the federal government trying to stop marijuana use in these states.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asserted a connection between marijuana and violent crime, but few Americans see it that way: just 23 percent think legalizing pot increases violent crime, while nearly as many think legal marijuana decreases it.
Generally, most Americans think habitual drug use should be treated as an addiction problem rather than a criminal offense. Even most Americans who oppose legalizing marijuana think so. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents all agree. Most Americans view marijuana in particular as safer than alcohol....
Support for legalization has risen among all age groups – particularly those under 55. Americans under 35 show the strongest support. Three in four adults between 18 and 34 support legal marijuana use, as do six in 10 Americans between 35 and 64. Seniors remain the one age group for whom a majority still think marijuana use should be against the law.
I think especially interesting and notable are the breakdown in these numbers by party affiliation detailed here. Specifically, I find it quite interesting that, according to this poll, Republicans disfavor marijuana legalization by a slight margin (49% to 46%), they still overwhelming support medical marijuana access (87% to 11%) and significantly oppose the federal government taking action to stop marijuana sales in legalization states (63% to 33%). These numbers suggest that any strong Trump Administration push against state legalization efforts will likely engender some backlash among supporters as well as opponents of the President.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
The title of this post comes from this article on the results of a recent survey finding marijuana legalization could greatly affect brewers' bottom lines. The article begins:
American presidents and poets have long expressed their love of beer. Abraham Lincoln said he firmly believed the people could be depended upon in any national crisis, as long as they were given “the facts and beer.” Edgar Allen Poe wrote an ode to the stuff, and Charles Bukowski called brew his “continuous lover.”
Yet more than a quarter of American beer drinkers have switched to marijuana, or would switch if it was legally accessible, a new report finds. According to the Cannabiz Consumer Group (C2G), 27% of 40,000 people surveyed last year said that cannabis already does replace beer in their lives or could if the former were legalized.
Brewers, who in 2015 sold more than $105 billion worth of beer, stand to lose from this tradeoff. Specifically, about $2 billion annually, C2G predicts, noting that wine and spirits sales will be affected as well. Ultimately, the analysts project, cannabis will cost beer 7% of its market.
There’s some evidence to support the claim. A 2016 report from the investment research group Cowen and Company noted that cannabis consumption seems to be leading to lower beer sales in Oregon, Colorado, and Washington, the three states where weed is recreationally legal. The shift in consumption habits was apparently most dramatic in Denver, where people bought 6% less beer post-legalization. Analysts said too that higher-income consumers and men in general have been drinking less alcohol in the past five years, while weed use rose among those groups.
Also worth noting: Cannabis consumption has variety on its side. There are of course classic methods, like smoking flowers and hash, but enthusiasts can also take advantage of vaporizers, edibles, infused beverages, powders, tablets, creams, tinctures, and ointments, plus whatever’s in development.
More than 24 million Americans legally accessed weed in 2016, and the new C2G report argues that these figures will only grow. It projects that “legal cannabis penetration will settle at a level comparable to that of beer and wine and that a fully mature market would create a new $50 billion industry.”
Friday, February 24, 2017
This webpage provides the basics on the latest Quinnipiac University national poll looking at a range of political issues, including marijuana legalization. Here are the marijuana poll highlights:
Marijuana should be made legal in the U.S., voters say 59 - 36 percent.
Republicans are opposed 61 - 35 percent and voters over 65 years old are opposed 51 - 42 percent. Every other party, gender, education, age and racial group listed supports legalized marijuana.
Voters support 93 - 6 percent legalized marijuana for medical purposes if prescribed by a doctor.
The government should not enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use, voters say 71 - 23 percent. Voters in every listed group support this position.
Especially interesting, particularly in light of yesterday's comments from White House press secretary Sean Spicer, is that only about 1/3 of all Republications in this poll voice support for "the government enforcing federal laws against marijuana in states that have already legalized medical or recreational marijuana."
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
As reported in this local article, "opposition to legal marijuana is dropping in Texas, with fewer than one in five respondents to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll saying they are against legalization in any form." Here is more on these poll results:
“We’ve seen this movie before on a couple of social issues,” said Daron Shaw, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll. He thinks the changes in Texas have more to do with shifting attitudes than with news of legalization in other states. “There’s a little bit of normalization. I don’t think this is a states-as-laboratories issue. Voters don’t care about that kind of stuff.”
Overall, 83 percent of Texans support legalizing marijuana for some use; 53 percent would go beyond legal medical marijuana to allow possession for any use, the poll found. Two years ago, 24 percent of Texans said no amount of marijuana should be legal for any use and another 34 percent said it should be allowed only for medical use.
Legal pot is more popular with Democrats than Republicans, with men than with women, and with younger Texans more than older ones. All of those subgroups support legalization of marijuana for medical or nonmedical use. Among Democrats, 62 percent would legalize pot in some amount for nonmedical use, while only 41 percent of Republicans agreed. Sixty percent of men would support legalization of non-medical marijuana, compared with 48 percent of women. Among 18-44 year olds, 55 percent would approve of non-medical marijuana and 51 percent of 45 to 64-year-olds agreed. But only 38 percent of Texans 65 and older agreed.
“The number of people who want to keep marijuana completely illegal decreased by seven points,” said poll co-director Jim Henson, who runs the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin. “The commensurate shift is in Republicans saying small amounts should be legal, and those who said any amount should be legal increased by six points."
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Shouldn't a new "grassroots" Democratic Party led by Bernie Sanders get started by focusing on grass and roots?
In the video below from the Late Show, Bernie Sanders tells Stephen Colbert that the Democrats have to become a "grassroots" party. Because of the frustrating tendency in recent years the the Clinton wing of the Democratic party to promote and give power to older, less diverse and more "insider" officials and candidates than the Republican party, I have largely given up on the party and I am fairly apathetic about whether the party gets its act together sooner or later. But I am sure about one thing: if the Democratic party wants to become relevant very quickly and build as a true "grassroots" party, it ought to begin by focusing a lot on marijuana law and policy reform. Specifically, as the title of this post seeks to suggests, I think smart progressive politicians and community organizers ought to be laser focused, at least for the next six months if not longer, on (1) protecting the constitutional rights of citizens in states who are in strict and clear compliance with state marijuana laws (that is the "grass"), and (2) seeking to expand the reach and breadth of existing state marijuana reform laws, with a particular concern for allowing citizens a legal means for at least limited "home grow" (that is the roots).
I make this "pitch" largely driven by the fact that the only significant progressive policy issue that has gone to voters in the last two major election cycles and pretty consistently done much better with most voters (especially white male voters) than the leading Democratic candidate IN RED STATES has been marijuana reform. Specifically, in the 2014 election, in Alaska and Florida, a state marijuana reform proposal got significantly more than 50% of the vote even though, I believe, no democratic state-wide candidate in those two stated got more than 50% of the vote. Similarly, in the 2016 election, in Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota, a state marijuana reform proposal got significantly more support than the leading Democratic candidate. (The outlier here is Arizona, but notably exit polls show 43% of white men supported supported full legalization in the state, whereas only 36% of them supported Hillary Clinton; similarly 45% of whites without a college degree in Arizona supported full legalization, whereas only 35% of them supported Hillary Clinton.)
I could go on and on and on about why the "smart" approach for any political party circa Fall 2016 would be to focus on the bipartisan and wildly popular issue of medical marijuana reform. I will just close by noting that major medical or recreational marijuana reform is now the law of the land in just about big blue and red state except Texas. Specifically, recreational marijuana reform is now the law in "big states" like California (55 EV), Washington (12), Massachusetts (11), Colorado (9) Oregon (7), Nevada (6), while medical marijuana reform is the law of the land in Florida (29), New York (29), Illinois (20), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), New Jersey (14), Arizona (11), Connecticut (7), Arkansas (6). Notably, I have left out three "small" full legalization jurisdictions from this list (e.g., Alaska, Maine and Washing DC), but my list of bigger states now with major marijuana reform laws on their books after the 2016 election now just happens to add up to 271 electoral votes.
This electoral math and the marijuana map are among the reasons I remain quite bullish about the future of marijuana reform in the United States, and it is why I have been saying to any and everyone who would listen that the truly smart political candidates in BOTH major political parties are likely to be supportive of state-led marijuana reforms. But, given that the election last week highlighted that leading Democrats are not very good at getting to 270, I am not really all that optimistic that the Democratic party will wake up and smell the marijuana reform future rather than keep being focused on the prohibitionist past.
November 16, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, November 14, 2016
The initiative that legalized recreational use of marijuana in California found its strongest support among those who voted for Hillary Clinton for president, African Americans and voters ages 18 to 29, according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times post-election poll.
Proposition 64 passed with 56% of the overall vote, but was supported by 68% of Clinton supporters and Democratic voters while it was opposed by 59% of those who voted for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to the poll conducted by SurveyMonkey.
A breakdown of the vote by race found the ballot measure drew support from 64% of African American voters, 58% of whites and 56% of Latino voters.
Though marijuana legalization was supported by 66% of voters ages 18 to 29, backing from those ages 50 to 64 was weaker at 49%.
Friday, November 11, 2016
Thanks to Tom Angell, Marijuana Majority founder and Twitter fiend, I now have seen that CNN has great exit poll data detailing and breaking down by a variety of demographics who voted for and against the marijuana reform initiative in Arizona (which failed) and California (which passed).
For those who follow marijuana reform polling, many of these demographic data points are not surprising: younger voters supported legalization in both states much more than older voters. Democrats supported legalization in both states much more than Republicans. But there are also some really interesting distinctive data points to be found, such as:
In Arizona, the majority of voters making less than $100K were supportive of legalization, with those making less than $50K being the most supportive (at 53%). Among voters making more than $100K, a full 56% were against AZ legalization.
In Arizona, a strong majority of Latino voters supported legalization (60%), but a strong majority of white voters opposed legalization (55%)
In California, the majority of voters at all income levels supported legalization, but those making less than $100K did so by a much larger percentage.
In California, the majority of unmarried voters strongly supported legalization (64%), but a majority of married voters opposed legalization (52%), but it is really just married women (against 55%) and not married men (for 52%) who move the married voters into a majority no position.
- In California, the majority of voters saying no religion were huge supporters of legalization (76%), but protestants also were majority supporters (54%), but catholics were strongly opposed (61%).
November 11, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Data and Research, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
The title of this post is the headline of this new piece by John Hudak at the Brookings FixGov website. I recommend the piece is full for all political junkies, and here are excerpts:
Much attention has been paid to the fact that several states are voting on marijuana initiatives this November. Five states—Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada—will vote on recreational legalization. Four more states—Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota—will have medical marijuana on their ballots. In many places, polling is tight and there are no sure bets on passage (not even in the Golden State).
The presence of these initiatives on ballots is important in and of itself, and passage would mean tremendous drug policy changes in any state that votes to approve its initiative, but they could also have significant ripple effects on other elements of this year’s election. How might the ballot initiatives affect voter turnout, the outcomes of other races, or the accuracy of polling in these states?...
From a policy perspective, differences between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are significant. Medical markets are smaller, access to the product is more limited, and overall public support is higher for medical marijuana. That broader support also makes it harder to identify concrete and significant differences of opinion across demographic groups. For recreational marijuana, where support nationwide stands at around 60 percent divisions exist and they are significant. We know that Democrats support legalization at higher rates than do Republicans (and about the same as Independents). Men support legalization at higher rates than women. We also know that the younger you are, the more likely you are to support legalization. For instance, voters under the age of 30 support legalization at around 80 percent, while fewer than four-in-ten voters 65 and older support it....
For medical, it makes sense that differences are muted because overall support is higher. What adds to that trend is the product’s broader consumer base. While there are plenty of young medical marijuana patients in states that have passed reform, it is not necessarily a “young person” issue. Patients who swear by the therapeutic benefits of marijuana span age groups and, in fact, many qualifying conditions disproportionately affect voters aged 30 and over — think MS, ALS, arthritis, cancer, etc. Similarly, you don’t have to be young to be convinced by a relative or friend that medical marijuana is helping them. For voters of all ages, seeing is believing.
Having recreational marijuana on the ballot matters for more than just these initiatives in and of themselves. Advocates put the initiatives on the ballot in even numbered years — especially presidential election years because turnout is significantly higher. However, there is some evidence from 2012 that marijuana initiatives have coattails, too. Those coattails have meaningful effects up and down the ballot.... As I have written previously the 2012 initiatives in Colorado and Washington had unique impacts on turnout in those states.... Marijuana legalization impacted who turned out in 2012 and we should believe it may have similar effects in 2016.
It is no secret that when liberals turn out and younger voters turn out, it helps Democrats, ... [and] legalization initiatives have [had] a clear Democratic benefit. Reform supporters and those behind ballot initiatives strategically time measures to happen during presidential years in order to capitalize on the increased turnout. Yet, we know that the initiatives themselves can dramatically transform turnout and can have significant effects on other races as well.
With five recreational legalization initiatives on the ballot this year, what might it mean for the election generally? First, there is a clear Democratic benefit to these initiatives. In some states that may not matter, though. California and Massachusetts have ballot measures but they are not competitive in the presidential election and California’s Senate race is not competitive. In Maine, Arizona, and Nevada, however, there are competitive presidential contests. In the latter two, there are also competitive Senate races. Even though none of the candidates have embraced legalization, Hillary Clinton and Democrats across those ballots may see a bump because of changes in turnout. Democratic-leaning voters, who otherwise might have stayed home, could turn out to vote on marijuana reform. Some may leave other parts of the ballot blank, but Democrats could see a meaningful benefit overall. In a race that is close, a few thousand votes here or there could force an incumbent Republican Senator to pack up his office or shift a state’s electoral votes from red to blue....
If turnout among those under the age of 30 and among self-described liberals explodes in those five states [voting on reform initiatives], it could transform the outcome of many other races. It may also mean that the actual effect of Cannabis Coattails could lead pollsters to underestimate both support for Democrats and the support for the initiatives themselves. This really is not the fault of pollsters; it is a problem that stems from a lack of data. However, 2016 will provide additional data on the effect of marijuana initiatives on the composition of the electorate and the benefit for Democrats, so that the next time we face a similar situation — and 2020 will almost certainly have more legalization initiatives — pollsters will be better informed when designing poll samples and generating results.
None of this is to say that marijuana legalization initiatives will have a disruptive effect on the election. However, if Nevada’s Democratic Senate candidate, Catherine Cortez Masto, narrowly defeats Joe Heck, or if Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick outpaces John McCain, or if Hillary Clinton manages to hold the electoral vote awarded from Maine’s Second Congressional District, it may not be a hard-fought campaign that made the difference. Such wins might occur because cannabis has a coattail effect — and even candidates who oppose legalization may find that marijuana was the medicine their campaign needed.
November 1, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, Initiative reforms in states, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Disappointingly, New York Times editorial board tepidly notes how "Marijuana Lights Up State Ballots"
More than two years ago, as first reported here, this seemingly historic new New York Times editorial called for the legalization of marijuana under the bold headline "Repeal Prohibition, Again." At the time, I had thought this action by the Gray Lady's editorial board would mean that the marijuana reform movement would have a high-profile and powerful media champion and advocate.
Disappointingly (though perhaps not surprisingly), while the NY Times editorial board has been a a high-profile and powerful media voice on a number of other modern criminal justice reform issues, the Times editorial pages has been anything but bold (and has often just been silent) in the last two years on a wide range of notable state and federal marijuana reform issues. In 2016, for example, which has arguably been the most significant year (and after this election will be surely the most consequential year) in the modern history of the reform of state and federal marijuana laws (and which the New York Times has covered extensively as news), the NY Times editorial board until this week had put forward only one single editorial advocating for marijuana reforms. (In telling contrast, the NY Times editorial board has had at least a dozen editorials advocating against forcefully capital punishment in 2016. )
I would think that if the editorial board was still truly committed to its advocacy in 2014 that the US should "Repeal Prohibition, Again," that it would be saying a whole lot more on this topic during this critical year. Against that backdrop, I am disappointed (but I suppose not too surprised) that this new New York Times editorial headlined "Marijuana Lights Up State Ballots" is marked more by reporting than by advocacy. Here are excerpts:
People in nine states, including California, Florida and Massachusetts, will vote Nov. 8 on ballot proposals permitting recreational or medical use of marijuana. These initiatives could give a big push to legalization, prompting the next president and Congress to overhaul the country’s failed drug laws. This is a big moment for what was a fringe movement a few years ago. A Gallup poll released on Wednesday showed 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, up from 31 percent in 2000 and 12 percent in 1969.
The drive to end prohibition comes after decades in which marijuana laws led to millions of people being arrested and tens of thousands sent to prison, a vast majority of whom never committed any violent crimes. These policies have had a particularly devastating effect on minority communities. Federal and state governments have spent untold billions of dollars on enforcement, money that could have been much better spent on mental health and substance abuse treatment.
So far, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana, and 25 states permit medical use. A recent Cato Institute study found that the states that have legalized recreational use have so far had no meaningful uptick in the use of marijuana by teenagers, or other negative consequences predicted by opponents. For example, in Colorado, drug-related expulsions and suspensions from schools have gone down in recent years. There has been no spike in drug-related traffic accidents and fatalities in Colorado or Washington.
On Election Day, voters in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada will consider proposals to allow recreational use. In California, which approved medical use in 1996, polls show that the measure is likely to win. In Massachusetts, a recent poll showed 55 percent of likely voters supporting legalization. In Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota, residents will vote on medical marijuana. If Florida voters say yes, other Southern states that have been resistant to liberalizing drug laws could reconsider their prohibitions, too.
Passage of these proposals should increase pressure on the federal government to change how it treats marijuana. The Obama administration has chosen not to enforce federal anti-marijuana laws in states like Colorado and Washington. But this bizarre situation can’t last — even as more states legalize the drug, state-licensed marijuana businesses remain criminal operations under federal law. Even if they are not prosecuted by the federal government, this conflict in their legal status creates immense problems....
States are driving the change in marijuana policy because they see the damage created by draconian drug laws on communities, families and state budgets. It’s time the federal government acknowledged these costs and got out of the way of states adopting more rational laws.
When I saw the headline for this editorial --- which, as I suggested before, seems to be mostly a report of reality and fails to do much editorializing --- I at least expected it to mention and link to the New York Times' prior 2014 editorial calling for the US to "Repeal Prohibition, Again." I do not believe that the New York Times has changed its editorial stance on this front, but they seem now almost intent to make sure nobody remembers their bold advocacy two years ago.
Moreover, this "editorial," while seemingly eager to note that "negative consequences predicted by opponents" of reform have not materialized, entirely fails to note or highlights that all of the positive consequences predicted by supporters of marijuana reform have come to pass: huge new tax revenues are being collected, economic development has been considerable, arrest rates have gone down dramatically, and adults have safe and legal access to their preferred medicine or recreational drug. Simply saying at the end here that the federal government should get "out of the way of states adopting more rational laws" (which the Obama Administration has largely done, though Congress could and should do it more formally) is about the weakest tea support for reform I could imagine.
I suppose that when a paper's nickname is the "Gray Lady," I was foolish to expect or hope it would act or advocate like even a young smart conservative advocate (whom polls show support medical marijuana reform 10 to 1 and full marijuana reform 3 to 1). Still, I feel now as though the 2014 editorial headline really should have been "Repeal Prohibition, Again.... but do not expect the Gray Lady to really try to help make that happen anytime soon."
October 20, 2016 in Federal Marijuana Laws, Policies and Practices, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
This new Gallup item, headlined "Support for Legal Marijuana Use Up to 60% in U.S," details the results of its latest annual poll on marijuana opinion. Here are the highlights:
With voters in several states deciding this fall whether to legalize the use of marijuana, public support for making it legal has reached 60% -- its highest level in Gallup's 47-year trend....
When Gallup first asked this question in 1969, 12% of Americans supported the legalization of marijuana use. In the late 1970s, support rose to 28% but began to retreat in the 1980s during the era of the "Just Say No" to drugs campaign. Support stayed in the 25% range through 1995, but increased to 31% in 2000 and has continued climbing since then.
In 2013, support for legalization reached a majority for the first time after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Since then, a majority of Americans have continued to say they think the use of marijuana should be made legal. Today's 60% is statistically similar to the previous high of 58% reached in 2013 and 2015, so it is unclear whether support has stabilized or is continuing to inch higher.
Support for legalizing marijuana use has increased among most subgroups in the past decade, but more so among certain groups than others. For example, support is up 33 percentage points to 77% among adults aged 18 to 34, while it is up 16 points among adults aged 55 and older to 45%....
Additionally, support is up more among independents and Democrats than it is among Republicans, partly because of the older age skew of the last group. Seventy percent of independents and 67% of Democrats support legal pot use, a major increase since the combined survey of 2003 and 2005 when 46% of independents and 38% of Democrats supported the idea. While less than a majority of members in any political party backed legalizing marijuana in 2003 and 2005, Democrats and independents have fueled the recent nationwide surge in support. Republicans' support has doubled from more than a decade ago, yet only 42% of GOP members now support legal marijuana use.
If recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California this year, many other states will likely follow, because the "Golden State" often sets political trends for the rest of the U.S. As more states legalize marijuana, the question of whether the drug should be legal may become when it will be legal. The transformation in public attitudes about marijuana over the past half-century has mirrored the liberalization of public attitudes about gay rights and the same-sex-marriage movement, the latter of which the U.S. Supreme Court deemed legal last year. It is possible that it might take a Supreme Court case to settle this matter, too.
Latest polling in Massachusetts shows notable uptick in support for full marijuana legalization ballot initiative
In part because all prominent political leaders throughout Massachusetts, both Democrats and Republicans, have come out strongly opposed to the state's marijuana reform initiative, I had come to expect that the state's ballot initiative would end up going down to defeat this fall. But this new article, headlined "WBUR Poll: Support Increases For Legalizing Marijuana In Mass," suggests that politicians opposition to the initiative might be driving the public to support it more. Here are the details (with links from the original):
A new WBUR poll (topline, crosstabs) finds support for the legalization of marijuana is up among likely Massachusetts voters. Fifty-five percent of likely voters now say they favor allowing adults to use recreational marijuana, which is the subject of Question 4 on the November ballot.
When WBUR last polled on legalizing marijuana, last month, the gap was narrower, with 50 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. That 5-point gap has now grown to 15 points, with 55 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed. "This one follows a long string of polls which shows the marijuana question with the 'yes' side leading by somewhere between the mid-single digits and the mid-double digits," said Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the survey for WBUR.
James Carroll, of Hopkinton, is among those who favor legalizing marijuana. "People should have a choice in what they do and don't do," he said. "Liquor's legal. It didn't use to be legal."
Koczela says there's particularly broad support for letting people use marijuana at home. "We found that almost everybody would be OK with the idea of people using marijuana in their homes — 84 percent said no, that that would not bother them," Koczela said. "When you ask, though, about using marijuana in public, only a third said that that would be OK with them." And 64 percent say it would bother them.
"I do have a concern about people taking it and then driving," said Carol Yankauskas, of Falmouth.
Most oppose advertising for marijuana in their community. Fifty-one percent of likely voters say it would bother them if marijuana businesses advertised in public places in their community. Susan Brownstein, of Westhampton, on the other hand, said it's fine. "We advertise alcohol," she pointed out. "We don't want our children to drink. We advertise Cialis, for goodness's sake, during prime-time, when little kids are watching television. This is way more benign."
There is, however, support for stores selling marijuana. Fifty-nine percent of respondents say it would not bother them if a store selling recreational marijuana opened in their community.
Nearly half the respondents (49 percent) say they have tried marijuana. Of those who have tried it, an overwhelming majority, 72 percent, support legalization.
Thursday, October 13, 2016
The Pew Research Center has this new posting headlined "Support for marijuana legalization continues to rise," reporting on the results of its latest polling. Here are the particulars:
The share of Americans who favor legalizing the use of marijuana continues to increase. Today, 57% of U.S. adults say the use of marijuana should be made legal, while 37% say it should be illegal. A decade ago, opinion on legalizing marijuana was nearly the reverse – just 32% favored legalization, while 60% were opposed.
The shift in public opinion on the legalization of marijuana has occurred during a time when many U.S. states are relaxing their restrictions on the drug or legalizing it altogether. In June, Ohio became the 25th state (plus Washington, D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico) to legalize marijuana in some form after Gov. John Kasich signed a medical marijuana program into law. This November, Americans in nine states will vote on measures to establish or expand legal marijuana use.
Young adults have disproportionately driven the shift toward public support of the drug, though support is rising among other generations as well. Millennials – those ages 18 to 35 in 2016 – are more than twice as likely to support legalization of marijuana as they were in 2006 (71% today, up from 34% in 2006), and are significantly more likely to support legalization than other generations.
Support for marijuana legalization has also increased among members of Generation X and Baby Boomers (ages 36-51 and 52-70 in 2016, respectively). More than half of Gen Xers (57%) support legalization, a considerable jump from just 21% in 1990. A majority of Boomers (56%) also support legalization, up from just 17% in 1990.
The Pew Research Center survey, conducted Aug. 23-Sept. 2 among 1,201 U.S. adults, also finds persistent partisan and ideological divides in public opinion on marijuana legalization. By more than two-to-one, Democrats favor legalizing marijuana over having it be illegal (66% vs. 30%). Most Republicans (55%) oppose marijuana legalization, while 41% favor it.
Republicans are internally divided over marijuana legalization. By a wide margin (63% to 35%), moderate and liberal Republicans favor legalizing the use of marijuana. By contrast, 62% of conservative Republicans oppose legalizing marijuana use, while just 33% favor it. The differences among Democrats are more modest. Liberal Democrats are 23 percentage points more likely than conservative and moderate Democrats to favor legalization (78% vs. 55%).
As past Pew Research Center surveys have found, Hispanics are less supportive of legalizing marijuana than are whites or blacks. Hispanics are divided – 49% say the use of marijuana should be illegal, while 46% say it should be legal. Identical majorities of whites and blacks (59% each) favor marijuana legalization.
I do not find the age-based and party-based polling particulars to be at all surprising, but I do find it quite notable and interesting that this poll suggests Latinos are slightly more likely to oppose than support marijuana legalization. I suspect that this finding could and would be even more interesting and telling if the Latino responses were broken down further by age, as I suspect older Latinos might continue to recall and fear the anti-Mexican/Latino biases that were integral to a whole lot of anti-marijuana policies and rhetoric until very recently.
The interesting Pew Center finding about Latino views on marijuana legalization also provides still further reasons to pay particular attention this election cycle to the marijuana reform ballot initiatives in states like Arizona and California and Florida. In addition to wondering whether exit polling in those states might confirm the likelihood of large blocks of Latino voters ending up on the "no" side of reforms, the traditionally different Latino origins that distinguish Latino population in different states might reveal still further deep insights into whether there are actually an array of distinct policy views on these issues among distinct groups of Latinos.
October 13, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Race, Gender and Class Issues, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Effective snapshot of marijuana reform debate and polling four weeks before (game-changing?) 2016 election
The Atlantic has this effective new piece that provide an astute "at this moment" perspective on marijuana reform developments and the coming election sure to impact them. The piece is headlined "Marijuana's Moment: As many as five states could approve its recreational use this November, potentially signaling a point of no return for legalized pot," and it merits a full read. Here are excerpts:
Recreational marijuana users can now legally light up a joint in states representing about 5 percent of the U.S. population. By the time Americans wake up on November 9, that percentage could be swelling to more than one-quarter. Measures to legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis are on the ballot in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada, and recent polls show the “yes” vote is winning in all five states. Approval would mark the biggest advance yet for advocates in the decades-long fight over legalizing marijuana—one that they believe could ultimately force the federal government to end its prohibition of the drug.
“On November 8, you can safely say we’ve reached the tipping point if these go our way,” said Tom Angell, founder of the group Marijuana Majority. The most important battleground is California, where advocates expect voters to approve personal use of pot six years after they defeated a similar measure. Support for Proposition 64 is polling at nearly 60 percent, and the measure has drawn support from leading politicians and newspapers that opposed it in 2010, including Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. The leading candidate for California’s open Senate seat, Kamala Harris, predicted Wednesday that voters would approve the law, although as the state’s attorney general she can’t formally take a position....
Beyond California, slimmer majorities of voters are backing full legalization in Massachusetts, Arizona, and Maine. In Nevada, polls have been mixed, with one in September showing strong support for passage and a more recent survey suggesting voters are split.....
Legalization advocates are trying to replicate their successes from 2012 and 2014, when voters sanctioned recreational marijuana use in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington D.C. But they are facing a better-organized opposition this year led by the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which has argued that the proposed laws are creating another “Big Tobacco,” but for marijuana. They say these laws are industry-backed initiatives that allow companies to market pot to children just like cigarette companies did for decades. “This is not about marijuana,” said Kevin Sabet, the president of SAM. He travels around the country warning that ballot measures legalizing marijuana are dangerously lax and written by an industry that wants to hook kids on pot lollipops and other “cannabis candy.”
“This is about a small amount of people making a lot of money,” he said. “This is not about personal liberty.” That’s especially true, Sabet argued, in California, where medical marijuana is famously easy to obtain and where recreational use hasn’t been considered a felony for 40 years. The drive to legalize, then, is all about business.
Sabet also disputes the idea that November will be a tipping point for marijuana legalization if the ballot measures in California and elsewhere prevail. “This is a very long game,” he said. “This is not going to be determined once and for all either this November or in November of 2018.” Sabet said there is already a backlash building in local communities in states that have legalized pot, spurred by rising rates of marijuana use and a spike in traffic fatalities linked to stoned drivers.
Sabet was speaking to me from an airport after leading seven rallies over two days against the California ballot measure. “California is much closer than we’re hearing about,” he argued. “It’s a coin flip in all of the states right now.” As Sabet sees it, the burden is lower for opponents of a ballot initiative like marijuana legalization to convince voters to go their way. “With ‘no,’ you just have to put a little bit of doubt in people’s minds, and they are movable,” he told me. “The more we get our message across, the more people change their minds from ‘yes’ to ‘no.’”
That’s a dynamic that worries Angell, a 15-year veteran of the legalization fight. He launched the Marijuana Majority in 2012 as a way of broadcasting the breadth of public support for the movement.... Though Marijuana Majority touts polls showing that 88 percent of voters nationwide support medical marijuana and 58 percent back full legalization, Angell is not as confident as [others] about a broad victory in November. Support for ballot measures typically drops in the run-up to an election, he notes. And while supporters of legal pot are outspending opponents, he worries about the movement’s version of an “October surprise” — a rumored move by the casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson to pour millions into last-minute ads against ballot measures in Nevada and Florida. “I am very concerned about where we are in a number of these states right now,” Angell said. “It’s a little too close for comfort.”
In addition to the full legalization measures, voters in four other states — Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and Arkansas — are considering laws approving medical marijuana. Supporters are confident about their chances in Florida but are less certain in Montana and North Dakota, where there has been little polling on the issue. They are most concerned about Arkansas because there are two medical-marijuana measures on the ballot — one supported by the legalization movement and another that is considerably narrower and more restrictive. “There’s a concern that voters will simply vote their favorite medical-marijuana measure and split the vote,” Angell said....
Another worry, Angell said, is complacency and overconfidence among marijuana advocates. Contrary to Sabet’s claims, he complained that the marijuana industry was not contributing enough to the legalization drive — and indeed, the medical-marijuana community in California is reportedly divided over the ballot measure in part because small growers view it as a boon to big business, according to the Los Angeles Times. The California Growers Association, for example, decided to stay neutral on the proposal. “There’s almost this sense that marijuana will legalize itself, that we’ve already won,” Angell said. If victories this year could put legalization on a nationwide path, losses would be a momentum killer. “A lot,” he admitted, “is riding on this.”
October 11, 2016 in Campaigns, elections and public officials concerning reforms, History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Initiative reforms in states, Medical Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Political perspective on reforms, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, October 6, 2016
A month out from the election, recreational marijuana reform ballot initiatives are ahead in the polls in all five states
For a variety of reasons, I have been thinking that a majority but not all of the five state ballot initiatives coming to voters this November to legalize recreational marijuana were likely to pass. However, this Washington Post article has a headline suggesting my forecast for recreational marijuana reform efforts might be unduly pessimistic: "Marijuana legalization is leading in every state where it’s on the ballot this November." Here are the interesting details:
Marijuana advocates are heading into the final weeks of the 2016 campaign with the wind at their backs as the latest polling shows legalization measures currently favored by voters in all five states where they're on the ballot. This is something of a reversal from just a month ago, when the most recent polling had shown voters wary of legalization measures in Massachusetts and Arizona. But the margins of support aren't huge in any state, meaning that the contests could still swing either way.
Polling ballot issues is a tricky business, all the more so with marijuana-related issues, where responses can be heavily influenced by particular question wording. So in the same state, different polls with different question wording can yield radically different results even if fielded at similar times. Those caveats aside, here's what the latest numbers show.
In Arizona, a late-August Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll of 784 registered voters found that 50 percent supported marijuana legalization, 40 percent opposed it, and 10 percent remain undecided. That result is sharply at odds with a July poll of likely voters showing that only 39 percent said they favored the measure.
In California, a post-debate SurveyUSA poll of 751 likely voters found that Proposition 64, which would legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana, is supported by 52 percent of the electorate and opposed by 41 percent, with 6 percent undecided. This is a lower margin than some other recent polls there, which have pegged support at 60 percent or more.
Across the country in Massachusetts, the marijuana legalization measure there enjoys 53 percent support among likely voters, according to a recent WBZ-UMASS Amherst poll of 700 likely voters. Forty percent oppose it, while another 7 percent are unsure. That's also a turnaround from an earlier poll of 900 registered voters, which found only 41 percent supported the measure.
Up the coast in Maine, a late September poll of 505 likely voters found 53 percent support for the legalization measure, 38 percent opposed to it and 10 percent undecided. This number has been fairly stable since the spring.
A poll fielded last week of 500 likely voters in Nevada found the legalization measure there leading with 57 percent support, compared to 33 percent opposing it. That number is sharply at odds with a Review-Journal survey of 800 likely voters, fielded at the exact same time, which found the legalization measure leading by just 1 percentage point, well within the margin of error....
Marijuana opponents, for their part, are optimistic about their chances. "If anything, the polls should give the opposition some comfort," said Kevin Sabet of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. "If you are not at 60 percent at this stage in the game, it usually spells trouble for ballot initiatives." Sabet says his group is planning for a busy final month of the campaign season: "We plan to do much more in the next 30 days."
For a variety of reasons, I am disinclined to alter my thinking that a majority but not all of the five state ballot initiatives coming to voters this November to legalize recreational marijuana were likely to pass. (For those who want specifics, I am expecting California, Maine and Nevada voters to approve recreational, while I am expecting the Arizona and Massachusetts initiatives to not quite make it to 50%.) And especially because I expect to votes to be reasonable close on these issues in every state, the only thing I will predict with certainty is that I will be up into the wee hours of Election Night awaiting returns from all these states.
October 6, 2016 in Initiative reforms in states, Polling data and results, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate, Recreational Marijuana State Laws and Reforms, Who decides | Permalink | Comments (0)