A new survey confirms that an overwhelming majority of Rhode Island voters support legalizing marijuana for adults. The poll, commissioned by WPRI 12 and Roger Williams University and conducted by Fleming & Associates, found that 56% of respondents favor ending marijuana prohibition, while only 37% were against the idea. Another 7% were undecided.
Leaders in the General Assembly have consistently refused to allow legislators to vote on marijuana legalization in recent years. This new poll provides further evidence that these politicians are out of touch with the Rhode Island people.
Legal marijuana sales will start in Massachusetts any day now, and the new Rhode Island legislative session begins in January 2019. With the public solidly on the side of reform, there is no excuse for delay, and there is no excuse for the General Assembly to not vote on legalization in this upcoming year.
The Marijuana Policy Project and Regulate Rhode Island are planning to mobilize constituents and organize an effective campaign to call on the General Assembly to vote on a legalization bill during the upcoming session.
Stay tuned for more updates soon!
Once again, the medical marijuana bill authored by Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Carly Melin cleared another legislative hurdle. The Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee just voted to refer the bill to the finance committee. The legislation has already been approved by the Senate health and government committees. As you may know, session time is running out, so, if you have not already done so, please find out if your lawmakers support medical marijuana.
Polling shows that a majority of Minnesotans, regardless of political affiliation, age, income, education, or region, support medical marijuana legislation. However, lawmakers tend to lag behind the public on sensible and compassionate marijuana policies, so if you are a Minnesota resident, please let your lawmakers know that their constituents support medical marijuana and they should, too.
Late last month, the Marijuana Policy Project commissioned Public Policy Polling to survey Rhode Island voter attitudes toward marijuana policy. The results are in, and the numbers indicate that Rhode Islanders from both sides of the aisle are clearly aware that marijuana prohibition is failed policy, and they are ready for change.
A majority of Rhode Islanders appear to be fed up with the current marijuana prohibition. Of the 714 voters polled, 52% would like to see all penalties for personal possession and use of marijuana removed and marijuana treated in a manner similar to alcohol, where it would be taxed, regulated, and sold in state-licensed stores to adults over the age of 21. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the idea received bipartisan support and was backed by 55% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans. Legislation spearheaded by MPP to establish such a system will be introduced in Rhode Island this session.
When Mason-Dixon Polling and Research asked the exact same question in 2008, only 41% of 625 voters surveyed supported regulated legalization of marijuana. That’s an increase of 11 percentage points among all voters in less than three years. The ’08 poll showed majority support among Democrats (52%) but strong opposition among Republican voters, with only 26% supporting and 66% opposing the idea just 33 months ago. This means we’ve seen support more than double among Rhode Island Republicans. So what’s going on here?
Although it may seem odd at first, I’ve long argued that replacing the marijuana prohibition with a legalized and regulated marijuana market is an issue perfectly teed up for true conservatives. Ending the marijuana prohibition, and to a greater extent the “War on Drugs,” would massively decrease the size and scope of the federal government and restore police power to the states. Massive federal programs that consume enormous amounts of tax dollars while failing to reduce use and abuse of marijuana would be dismantled, and the oft complained of “nanny state” – the government telling responsible adult citizens what they can and cannot do – would be whittled away at. But can this enormous increase in support for a regulated marijuana market among Rhode Island Republicans be attributed solely to the respondents tapping into their true conservative cores?
While the questions posed to voters were identical in 2008 and 2012, the polls were conducted by different firms. To see if this could be responsible for some of the increase, I reached out to Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling to get his take. “Automated polls [like the one conducted by PPP] tend to get more honest responses from people about sensitive issues than live interview [polls] like Mason-Dixon conducts. People might not be comfortable telling another human on the line that they think marijuana use should be legal, but they’re fine with pushing a button to express that same opinion.” So there is an argument that some of the increase in support was actually there all along, but it was quiet support. This kind of support may be stifled in part by voters’ reluctance to tell a live human being that they support something that could be perceived as taboo.
But I don’t think the live vs. automated distinction can account for the entire increase, and neither does Mr. Jensen. “I think with the tough economy and all the hard cuts state governments across the country have had to make over the last few years, voters are open to new ways to generate revenue, like legalizing and regulating marijuana use, in a way that they might not have been in more prosperous times.” Faced with the current economy, the typical American voter is given two options: cut popular and necessary programs or raise taxes. Neither of these options seems politically popular for members of either major party. So it shouldn’t be surprising to see people from both sides of the political spectrum supporting a proposal that would raise an untold amount of revenue while keeping intact support for current programs and not raising personal income taxes.
Regardless of the reasoning, it is clear that support for regulated legalization of marijuana is increasing and increasing fast. And this phenomenon is not limited to just Rhode Island.
In October of 2011, Gallup conducted their semi-annual “Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?” poll. They have been polling the American public on this question, off and on, since 1969. It is important to note that Gallup does not ask about a regulated market, just if marijuana should be legal. It’s also important to keep in mind that Gallup’s results are based on telephone interviews, so if Tom Jensen is correct, we’d expect that the actual support among the public is some degree higher than the results show. With that in mind, it’s incredibly telling that for the first time since 1969, Gallup found that 50% of the American public agrees that marijuana should be legal while 46% think it should remain illegal. Additionally, plurality support for a regulated and legalized market is found in both Colorado and Washington; both states will be voting on ballot measures asking if marijuana should be legalized and regulated come November.
Whatever the reasons may be, the public at large – and Rhode Island voters in particular – have come around to the idea of regulated legalization of marijuana, and why shouldn’t they? Marijuana is demonstrably safer than alcohol and tobacco – both of which are legal yet regulated. Responsible marijuana legalization and regulation will create entire industries worth of jobs, allow federal and state governments to collected needed revenue from responsible sales, and keep marijuana out of the hands of minors through thorough regulations. We’ve got the public behind us, it’s time the lawmakers open their eyes.
(NOTE: PPP also polled Rhode Island voter attitudes toward Rhode Island’s medical marijuana program and a proposal to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by replacing the criminal penalty with a civil citation. Both of these enjoyed very strong support. Click here for full poll results.)
Last week, I posted the results of the MPP-commissioned poll showing that despite outrageous claims being made by local officials, there is wide support for medical marijuana among Los Angeles County voters. A new poll now shows that support for medical marijuana access isn't confined to Los Angeles.
A poll released Wednesday in San Diego found super-majority support for medical marijuana in that city. The poll -- commissioned by addiction recovery Web site keepcomingback.com -- found 77% agreement that "officials must make sure that San Diego's medical marijuana patients have convenient access to their medicine in the city." 70% support regulating the city's medical marijuana collectives in some way, while only 9.5% support banning them (3% said they didn't need any regulations). The poll also collected other interesting information about how San Diegans view medical marijuana sales. Read more about it here.
This poll should send a firm message to San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who just last month ordered a series of shocking raids on local medical marijuana patients and suppliers.
Responding to recent calls to shutter Los Angeles county's medical marijuana collectives, MPP commissioned a poll that found Angelenos overwhelmingly supportive of medical marijuana access in their community.
According to the survey, 74 percent of Los Angeles County voters support the state's medical marijuana law. 77 percent said that they prefer regulating L.A.-area medical marijuana facilities over closing them all down. Support for regulation crossed all demographic groups, including Republicans who favor regulation over wholesale closure by a 62 to 30 percent margin.
The poll also found that 54 percent of voters think marijuana should be made legal for adults over 21 and and its sales taxed and regulated like alcohol.
Hopefully these results will further demonstrate to the Los Angeles City Council and other elected officials that attacking the medical marijuana community is a no-win game in L.A. politics.
The poll -- conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research -- surveyed 625 regular voters in L.A. County. The questions and results by demographic breakdown can be downloaded here.
One of California’s most respected polling firms, Field Research, just released data showing that 56% of registered voters in the state support legalizing and taxing marijuana as a means of generating revenue for the ailing state budget.
The poll asked voters for their opinions on various tax proposals. Making marijuana legal turned out to be among the most popular. The marijuana tax beat out carbon taxes, gas taxes, and business property taxes, among others.
Hopefully this poll will ensure that A.B. 390, a state bill to tax and regulate marijuana in California, will pick up more support in Sacramento.
The Washington Post also just released a national poll showing that 46% of Americans support “legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” To put this number into perspective, Americans are now more likely to support marijuana legalization than approve of either party's job performance in Congress.