Arizona Republic: Poll shows Arizona marijuana-legalization campaign could fail if voted on today
Yvonne Wingett Sanchez
April 20, 2016
If a vote were taken today, Arizonans could reject an initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana by adults, according to a poll released by the campaign opposing the plan.
The survey shows 43 percent of likely voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use while 49 percent would vote against it. About 8 percent of likely voters were undecided. The telephone survey has a margin of error of about 4 percent.
Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy released the poll on the eve of 4/20, a day on which the drug culture celebrates and consumes cannabis.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is gathering signatures to put an initiative on the November ballot that would allow people age 21 and older to carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants in a home occupied by at least two people, without obtaining licenses. It would also create a distribution system similar to Colorado’s, where licensed businesses produce and sell marijuana, which would be taxed.
Barrett Marson, spokesman for the legalization campaign, said of the poll results: “We look forward to a vigorous campaign informing voters of the benefits of ending the failed policy of prohibition. By regulating and taxing marijuana, we benefit our schools and keep it out of the hands of teens.”
The poll, released to The Arizona Republic on Tuesday, shows voters could narrowly oppose the measure. According to the survey of 500 likely voters conducted April 11 through April 14:
- When asked if they would be more or less likely to support the ballot measure if they knew recreational marijuana would be taxed at 15 percent and the funds would go to public health and education, 50 percent said they would be more likely to support the measure, while 29 percent said they would be less likely to support it. Eighteen percent said the tax would not really change their decision, while 4 percent were undecided and 1 percent wouldn’t answer the question.
- About 19 percent said they would be more likely to support legalization in Arizona after being told teen use of the drug here is 70 percent higher than the national average. About 53 percent said they would be less likely to vote for the measure, 21 percent said they still held the same view, 6 percent were undecided and 1 percent wouldn’t answer the question.
- Asked if they knew the measure would allow growth of up to 12 plants in their homes and allow them to smoke in their backyard, 31 percent said they would be more likely to vote for it, 52 percent would be less likely, 13 percent said their opinion remained about the same, 3 percent were undecided and 1 percent refused to answer.
Of those who responded, 39 percent were Republican, 33 percent were Democrat, 28 percent were independent, and 1 percent didn’t know their affiliation. About 36 percent were 65 or older, 21 percent were 55-64 years old, 17 percent were 45-54 years old, 13 percent were 35-44 years old and 13 percent were 18-34 years old.
Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy argues legalization could upend decades of policies surrounding substance-abuse prevention, law-enforcement and health. They argue legalization could lead to the abuse of marijuana and negatively impact the workplace.
The group’s leaders, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk and radio host Seth Leibsohn, say legalization could lead to increased incidents of impaired driving and lead to accidental ingestion by youth who may find marijuana-laced cookies and candies enticing without knowing they contain the drug.
“Advocates for recreational marijuana argue that legalization is inevitable, but this poll shows it’s just not true,” Leibsohn said in a statement. “Arizonans are beginning to understand that today’s marijuana is not the marijuana of the past. It’s a great deal more potent — practically a different drug — and is made attractive to youth in seemingly innocuous candies like gummy bears.”
Campaign officials argue prohibition of the drug has been a failure, and it’s in the public’s best interest to try to regulate and tax it.
Taxation of the proposed program would pay the state’s cost of implementing and enforcing the initiative. Forty percent of the taxes on marijuana would be directed to the Department of Education for construction, maintenance and operation costs, including salaries of K-12 teachers. Another 40 percent would be set aside for full-day kindergarten programs. Twenty percent would go to the state Department of Health Services for unspecified uses.
A state Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control would regulate the “cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation and sale of marijuana” and would give local governments the authority to regulate and ban marijuana stores. Current medical-marijuana dispensary owners would get first dibs on licenses for the stores.