Latest Polling Finds 60% Support for Marijuana Legalization in California


New polling results in California suggest six in ten voters are finally ready to legalize marijuana in the nation’s most populous state, when they go to the polls this November.

A telephone survey of 1000 likely CA voters, taken between Feb. 11th and 14th of this year by Probolsky Research, asked voters the following question: “On the November 2016 ballot you may see an initiative that would legalize marijuana for recreational use under California law and allow government to tax it, likely bringing in millions in new revenues for government programs. If the election was held today, would you vote Yes to approve or No to reject this initiative? “

The survey found that 60% of California voters currently support the full legalization of marijuana, with 37% opposed, and 4% undecided (with a margin of error of plus or minus 3%). These were among the most promising polling results for marijuana legalization yet found in California or in any other state,

Among those supporting legalization, 43% were definitely in support; 15% were likely to support; and 2% were leaning towards support. Among those opposing legalization, 30% were definitely opposed; 7% were likely to oppose; and 1% were leaning towards opposing.

Perhaps most revealing were the levels of support found by age, gender and race.

No Longer a Gender Gap

First, and extremely important, the support for legalization in CA is now nearly the same for female voters as for male voters. In almost all national polls on legalization, there is a gender gap of 8% to 10%, with lower support among female respondents. This survey found that 61% of the men in CA support legalization, and 59% of women in CA support legalization. This is a finding that should prove most important in November, when women will comprise more than half of the voters.

All Age Groups Now Support Legalization, Except Us Old Folks

Second, marijuana was supported by a majority of all age groups, other than those 65 and above. Those 18-34 support legalization at an impressive 80% level; those 35-54 support legalization at 64% level; those 55-64 support legalization at 56% level; and even in my cohort, 65 and above, 46% support legalization. Marijuana legalization is clearly no longer just an issue of interest to young Americans, although they do support legalization in record numbers.

Overwhelming Support Among Liberals and Progressives

Of those who self-identified as liberal or progressive, 80% support legalization; 55% of those who self-identify as moderates support legalization; and 38% of those who self-identify as conservatives support legalization.

Ethnicity Not A Major Factor

And finally, ethnically 63% support for legalization was found among Asians; 62% support among whites; 58% among Hispanics; and 49% among blacks.

On February 20, the NORML board of directors endorsed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) , a voter initiative in California that is expected to qualify shortly for the ballot, and that would legalize the adult possession and use of marijuana, and the personal cultivation of marijuana; and would establish a legally regulated market where consumers could obtain their marijuana. The AUMA is also backed by the California Medical Association, the California NAACP, CA Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, and several other drug law reform organizations.

The results of this latest poll appear to point towards an overwhelming victory in California in November. Along with other likely legalization victories via voter initiatives in Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Arizona, 2016 is looking more and more like a breakout year for the legalization movement.

About Author

Keith Stroup is a Washington, DC public-interest attorney who founded NORML in 1970. Stroup first smoked marijuana when he was a first-year law student in 1965 and has been a regular smoker and a cannabis activist ever since. In 1992 Stroup was the recipient of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform presented by the Drug Policy Foundation; in 2010 he received the Al Horn Award from the NORML Legal Committee for a lifetime of work advancing the cause of justice; and in 2012, Stroup received the High Times Lifetime Achievement Award. Keith currently serves as NORML's Legal Counsel and on NORML's Board of Directors. He resides in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife.

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