• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Marijuana Legalization Initiative Leading In California Polls

California has long been known for unique, and controversial ballot initiatives, but there’s one on the ballot this year that is likely to get a lot media attention over the next five weeks, and even more attention if it passes. Proposition 19 would effectively legalize the possession and sale of marijuana, and would authorize the state and California localities to tax and regulate it in the same manner that they do alcohol. The proposition itself is not all that surprising given California’s history over the past fifteen years of significantly liberalizing the drug laws as it relates to marijuana, starting first in 1996 with Proposition 215, which opened the floodgates on state laws allowing possession of marijuana for medical purposes, and continuing with Proposition 36 which essentially made most people convicted of non-violent drug possession eligible for probation rather than incarceration. On some level then, an effort at complete legalization was the natural next step in a process in California that reflects a general attitude among the populace that marijuana use just isn’t a very big deal.

So far at least, it’s looking very much like Prop 19 will pass:

The ballot initiative Proposition 19, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in California, still leads by nine points in the latest poll from PPP:

PPP (PDF) (9/14-16)
Proposition 19 would legalize marijuana under California but not federal law. It would permit
local governments to regulate and tax commercial production, distribution, and sale of
marijuana. Will you vote yes or no on Proposition 19?
Yes 47%
No 38%
Undecided 14%

The good news is that Yes on Prop 19 still has that fairly large nine-point margin over No on Prop 19. This is larger than we saw in the most recent SurveyUSA poll, which found it 47 percent yes -43 no.

The one caveat, of course, is that Yes is polling under 50%, which is essentially the same place that the No vote on Proposition 8 was polling in the weeks leading up to the 2008 election. So, it’s still entirely possible that the legalization initiative will fail, and one group is putting a lot of money into making sure that it does:

The California Beer & Beverage Distributors is spending money in the state to oppose a marijuana legalization proposition on the ballot in November, according to records filed with the California Secretary of State. The beer sellers are the first competitors of marijuana to officially enter the debate; backers of the initiative are closely watching liquor and wine dealers and the pharmaceutical industry to see if they enter the debate in the remaining weeks.

The irony of the alcohol industry opposing an initiative to legalize marijuana is, I am sure, not lost on anyone. It is, roughly, the equivalent of the gambling industry opposing the opening of horse tracks and off-track betting, and on some level a recognition of the fact that there really isn’t any functional equivalent between the two products other than the fact that one happens to be illegal.

One of the more interesting things about Prop 19, though, is the fact that it may actually be helping undercut the enthusiasm gap that Democrats are facing in the rest of the nation:

One thing that’s interesting about the marijuana polling is that it really doesn’t break down along party lines to the same extent most of the things we poll do. 56% of Democrats support it to 28% opposed and 30% of Republicans support it with 57% opposed. That’s a lot more division within the ranks of both parties than we’re seeing on a lot of stuff.

A big question to contemplate in California is whether the marijuana initiative is helping to stifle the enthusiasm gap Democrats are dealing with in most other states, particularly when it comes to intended turnout from young voters. We’re seeing a much higher level of interest in this election from voters under 45 in California than in most places and those folks are highly favorable toward Proposition 19, planning to vote for it by a 54/34 margin.

Because of the fact that it is influencing who is going to be a Likely Voter on Election Day, the presence of Prop 19 on the ballot may explain at least in part why Barbara Boxer remains competitive against Carly Fiorina, and why Jerry Brown remains within the Margin of Error against Meg Whitman.

This will be worth watching as the weeks go on, but as it stands now it’s very likely that California will become the first state in the country to completely legalize marijuana. To me, that’s a positive development that will hopefully start a trend.

Graphic Credit: Opposing Views

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Vast Variety says:

    So if I move to California in December I can probably smoke a joint while walking down the street and passing a state trooper but I can’t get married.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    So all Democrats need to do is put this on the ballot in the remaining states for 2012 and they’re assured of victory.  Nothing mobilizes hippies like dope smokin’.  Not war, not organic farm initiatives, not tie dye bans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. sam says:

    Doesn’t this run afoul of Raich?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. floyd says:

    What are the federal implications, will it be treated like emmigration and just ignored?

    V.V.; 
     You can always just do what most heterosexual couples do and claim to be “engaged”…for years… with 3 kids.
     Like them, just be ”Fiancée and Fiance’ ” or ”Fiancée and Fiancée ”or  ”Fiance’ and Fiance’ “…. Whatever…. In your case I guess it’s your choice, huh ?
    Point is, they don’t understand the concept either.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Herb says:

    “So if I move to California in December I can probably smoke a joint while walking down the street and passing a state trooper but I can’t get married.”
     
    I don’t think you’ll ever be able to smoke a joint while walking down the street.  However, you may be able to buy, possess, grow and smoke it at home without fear of being criminally charged and incarcerated.  That’s progress.
    “Nothing mobilizes hippies like dope smokin’.”
    Those danged hepcat jazz-listening hippies….  Someone’s stuck in the 60s.  Ya know, Steve, it’s not hippies that want to “legalize it” these days.  It’s libertarians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. UberMitch says:

    It is, roughly, the equivalent of the gambling industry opposing the opening of horse tracks and off-track betting
    Wasn’t that precisely one of the things that Jack Abramoff facilitated, taking gambling industry money to get Ralph Reed to have his Christian group buddies oppose the opening of new competitor casinos?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. James says:

    Hey Arnold how about a grow room over at the Library :)
    Green Party: where will the Oil and Coal minerals be exported to when we are Green Energy Compliant, you and I know they will be exported and taxed, They will not be left idle.
     

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    George Soros is behind this.  Wonder why he wants to weaken the nation?  Libertarians are opposed to all drug laws.  Those same people would impose very harsh punishment if you violate their liberty, say by stealing to support a habit.  Don’t think smoke is habit forming.  Get a job in the recovery field.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Herb says:

    “Those same people would impose very harsh punishment if you violate their liberty, say by stealing to support a habit.  Don’t think smoke is habit forming.  Get a job in the recovery field.”
     
    What’s your point, Zels?  Stealing should remain illegal?  Things that are habit-forming should be illegal?  (Ban all sports fishing now!)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. matt says:

    Oh lord if we banned half the stuff that we use daily as a habit we’d be in bad shape as a civilization…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. James says:

    Whom do you think drafted the Obamacare bill, seems there was a Marijuana connection in the Spealers Office. Can’t wait till the entire leadership write bills, Hey Arnold how about a grow room over at the Library, Repeat…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Wayne says:

    One of these day probably after Obama gets out of office, the Feds will go in a make arrest a shitload of dealers.  It will be easy to since all they will need to do is pick up the Phone book or tax list to find the dealers.

    Either that or many States will begin to ignore any Federal laws they don’t agree with.
     

     
    I vote for the last one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Looks like the usual suspects around here are once again whining, as this initiative seems like a done deal…relax, fellas, maybe you should have a joint, it might make you feel better…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. James says:

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBwQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.kfdm.com%2Farticles%2Fsour-39363-covington-car.html&ei=iaqaTO2TNsqAnwfRvvwj&usg=AFQjCNH2waIRSdezdpVCdxiLZdRJ0nGbZg

    I stood in the snow so you can vote, don’t think it was about “Feel Good”
    Valley Forge Minute Men

    The issue is larger then “Feel Good” They served in 130 degree desert
    don’t think is was about “Feel Good”

    Hay Arnold how about a grow room over at the Library?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Herb says:

    Yeah, that grow room over at the library thing isn’t getting any funnier…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. george says:

    Arguing that drugs like marijuana should be illegal is in fact arguing for a nanny state – its basically saying you can’t trust people to make decisions for themselves.  I’m always surprised when conservatives are for the war on drugs – they’re basically saying they prefer big gov’t running people’s lives.
    Do the democrats and republicans get together at secret retreats to split up which aspects of big gov’t each gets to promote?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. anjin-san says:

    > I’m always surprised when conservatives are for the war on drugs
    Why are you surprised? “Conservatives” are all about getting government off people’s backs, unless the people are doing things they don’t approve of. Suddenly then, they don’t mind a little boot on someone’s back.
    I am really looking forward to legislation outlawing masturbation if O’Donnell is elected…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. RGardner says:

    “So if I move to California in December I can probably smoke a joint while walking down the street and passing a state trooper but I can’t get married.”
    If you have a medical MJ card in Cali you can already do this. I saw a man smoking a joint at a rest stop on I-5 a couple of weeks ago when I was in Calif. Nobody  gave him any attention.
    I didn’t see any pot dispensaries, but I understand they don’t put up big signs. However I saw an incredible number of hydroponics shops and I doubt the folks going into them are growing tomatoes.
     
     
     

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. floyd says:

    Those of you who defend legalization of pot on the grounds that people should be trusted to make decisions for themselves, how do you justify such things as the mandatory purchase of health insurance? Certainly not a Republican attempt at overreaching  government interference.
    How about getting government permission just to do maintenance on your own home,or the forced purchase of services not provided by government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Herb says:

    “Those of you who defend legalization of pot on the grounds that people should be trusted to make decisions for themselves, how do you justify such things as the mandatory purchase of health insurance?”

    Depends on who you ask. Ask a libertarian and they won’t justify it at all. They’ll say the government doesn’t have the right to force you to buy health insurance OR demand that you don’t smoke pot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Steve Plunk says:

    Funny how we all embrace the libertarians when it helps our argument.  Both side do it.
     
    herb,  It’s the hippies stuck in the 60′s man.  Old ideas still hanging around.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. [...] this question, support for Prop 19 has fallen modestly from 52 percent yes, 36 percent no.” Doug Mataconis puts the first concern into perspective: “Yes is polling under 50%, which is essentially the [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0