marijuana measures

Five states—Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada— will decide on ballot marijuana measures to legalize and regulate the adult use, commercial production, and retail sale of marijuana to adults on Nov. 8. With only weeks to go before Election Day, here is where voters’ sentiments are leaning.

ARIZONA: The latest polling data from the Grand Canyon State finds a plurality of voters in support Proposition 205 (the Arizona Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act). According to survey data compiled by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy and released this month, 50% of registered voters back the measure while 40% oppose it. Consequently, the fate of the proposition largely lies in the hands of undecided voters.

In 2010, Arizonans narrowly approved a medical cannabis legalization law with less than 51% of the vote. If enacted in November, Prop 205 would permit adults to possess, consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana (up to one ounce of marijuana flower, up to five grams of marijuana concentrate, and/or the harvest from up to six plants), while also establishing regulations for the crop’s commercial production and distribution.

CALIFORNIA: Multiple polls are available gauging voters’ opinions on Prop 64 (The Adult Use of Marijuana Act). To date, all of them show majority support for the measure, which allows those age 21 or older to possess up to one ounce of flowers and/or eight grams of cannabis concentrates, while also permitting indoor home grows of no more than six plants. A September poll conducted by CALSPEAKS Opinion Research Center at Sacramento State finds a whopping 71% of Californians leaning toward voting yes on the initiative. Support is also strong among registered voters. An August survey conducted by the Institute of Government Studies at the University of California, Berkeley found that 64% of voters believe that “marijuana should be legal for adults to purchase and use recreationally, with government regulations similar to the regulation of alcohol.” Another recent poll conducted by University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times finds that 58% of voters plan to vote for the AUMA.

Despite concerns voiced by some in the medical marijuana community, the language of Prop 64 explicitly says that it’s not intended to “repeal, affect, restrict, or preempt… laws pertaining to the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 [Prop 19].” The marijuana measure is endorsed by a broad coalition of recognizable organizations and political leaders, including the ACLU of California, the California Democratic Party, the California Medical Association, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California NAACP, the Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and NORML.

MAINE: No recent statewide polling data is available regarding Question 1 (Marijuana Legalization Act), which would allow adults to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and to cultivate up to six mature plants and the entire yields of said plants. However, in past elections, Maine voters have backed progressive pot policies, including twice deciding in favor of permitting patients’ access to cannabis for therapeutic purposes. In 2013, 70% of voters in Portland, the state’s most well populated city, favored a municipal ballot measure removing all criminal and civil penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.

MASSACHUSETTS: In recent weeks, public support has ticked upward for Question 4 (the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act). However, the latest poll, conducted by WBUR in early September, finds only 50% of voters endorse the measure, while 45% oppose it. The relatively low level of support is somewhat surprising since voters in the Bay State have previously said yes by large margins to both medicinal marijuana (2012) and decriminalization (2008) initiatives, as well as to dozens of municipal, non-binding legalization measures.

NEVADA: Like in Arizona, recent survey data from the Silver State shows that a plurality of voters back Question 2 (Initiative to Regulate and Tax Marijuana). According to a Rasmussen poll, released in late July, 50% of voters support the measure, which states, “The People of the State of Nevada find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older, and its cultivation and sale should be regulated similar to other businesses.” Currently, 41% of registered voters are opposed to the initiative.

In 2000, 67% of Nevadans approved Question 9, a marijuana measure which legalized and regulated the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.

In addition, four states will be voting on medical marijuana measures on Nov. 8: Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota.

For the latest news and information about this year’s ballot measures, go to: norml.org/election-2016.

 


 

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About Paul Armentano

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and a Senior Policy Advisor at Freedom Leaf. He also serves on the faculty of Oaksterdam University. Mr. Armentano’s writing and research on marijuana policy have appeared in well over 750 publications, scholarly and/or peer-reviewed journals, as well as in more than two dozen textbooks and anthologies. He is the co-author of the book Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (2009, Chelsea Green), which has been licensed and translated internationally, and more recently, The Citizens’ Guide to State-by-State Marijuana Laws (Whitman Books, 2015). Mr. Armentano is the 2013 Freedom Law School Health Freedom Champion of the Year and the 2013 Alfred R. Lindesmith award recipient in the achievement in the field of scholarship.

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