Marijuana legalization will be on the ballot in five states next month, and the odds are looking increasingly good every one of them could pass it.
Recent polls show voters in each of the five states – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – support legalization and are likely to vote for it Nov. 8. That’s a great sign, suggesting that even if one or two of the ballot initiatives fail, others will succeed.
“Marijuana legalization is leading in every state it’s on the ballot this November,” Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham tweeted in early October. Ingraham pointed to data showing at least half of voters in all five states support legal cannabis, while no more than 40 percent oppose it.
The results are similar to those of several state polls published between August and October. The surveys show that 60 percent of Californians plan to vote yes on legalization, along with 50 percent of Arizona voters, 53 percent of voters in Maine, 53 percent in Massachusetts, and 57 percent in Nevada.
The numbers in California aren’t terribly surprising, as polls there have shown consistently strong backing for reform in recent years. Two previous attempts to legalize marijuana for recreation failed in 2010 and 2014, but the climate is decidedly friendlier this time around.
Neighboring Arizona, meanwhile, remains a wild card. But the strong support in Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts is an especially good sign. Success in those places would bring legal weed to a new part of the country.
The numbers referenced by Ingraham apparently come from five separate polls.
A late August survey by the Arizona Republic, Cronkite News, and the Morrison Institute of Public Policy found 50 percent of the state’s voters favor Proposition 205, which would legalize cannabis for recreational use. The drug is already legal as medicine in Arizona.
The same poll found 40 percent oppose the initiative and 10 percent were undecided. The results fell outside the survey’s margin of error, 3.4 percentage points, but with a 50 percent vote required to pass the measure, that’s enough to make the difference between victory and defeat.
In California, a September poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed as many as 60 percent of voters back legalization. Prop. 64 would make the state the world’s largest market for legal pot, and it has been widely endorsed by political leaders, newspaper editorials, medical professionals, and civil rights groups.
Thirty-six percent of Californians said they would vote against the measure, while 4 percent said they hadn’t made up their minds. With a margin or error of 3.5 percentage points, the poll suggests Prop. 64 is almost certain to pass.
Across the country in Maine, the Portland Press Herald published a survey showing 53 percent support among voters there. Just 38 percent said they would vote against ballot Question 1, with the remaining 10 percent saying they were undecided. The margin or error was 4.3 percentage points, and Maine requires at least a 50 percent vote to amend its constitution, so the outcome is far from guaranteed.
The political situation in Massachusetts is more tenuous than it is in the other states with legalization on the November ballot. Though public support is strong there, many political leaders openly oppose the initiative.
But a poll by WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst found 53 percent back legalization, compared to 40 percent who plan to vote against it, and 7 percent who haven’t yet decided. With a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points, the poll suggests this vote could go either way.
Polling data in Nevada, finally, suggest voters there want to legalize more than anyone else except Californians. Forty-seven percent said they would vote yes, against 33 percent who plan to vote no, and 10 percent who haven’t made up their minds. The margin of error was 4.4 percentage points, but that leaves enough room for the measure to pass comfortably.