by David Downs
A 56 percent majority of Californians are ready to legalize cannabis for personal use, a new independent poll found this week. A handful of TV stations hired the reputable Survey USA to ask 500 random Californians this question:
Should the state of California legalize the use of marijuana? Or not?
56 percent said yes, 42 percent said no, with 3 percent undecided.
Don't get too worked up. The margin of error on the poll was around four percent, and the poll did not account for mid-term voters, who tend to be older and more conservative. The last independent poll had the same problem.
Still, there's some interesting findings in the numbers. A supermajority of those under 34 favor legalization, which means time is on reform's side. Californians aged 35-49 are slightly against legalization (50 — 46) yet legalization is a dead heat (49-49) in the 50-64 bracket. Those 65 and older are still staunchy in the "no" camp (54-39). And since these are the folks who like to vote early and often in mid-terms, we're going to need to see some serious evidence that the kids are ready to rock Grandma's vote. Well, are you, kids?
Racially: whites, blacks and asians are for legalization, but 53 percent of Hispanics are against it.
Politically: independents are solidly for legalization, as well as Democrats. Republicans can't make up their minds. They are against it 46 to 53, which is well within the margin of error.
In other poll news, ABC News did a national poll that claims to have found 55 percent of Americans oppose legalization. But This is Your Country on Drugs author Ryan Grim, a Huffington Post reporter covering health in Washington DC, dug into the poll numbers and noted that:
when pot is compared to alcohol, support for reforming the laws surges. Forty-four percent of respondents said that "the regulations on marijuana [should] be the same as those for alcohol." Another 12 percent said they should be "less strict," meaning that a full 56 percent support the policy change — perhaps the highest number ever recorded in favor of legalization. (Alcohol is, after all, legal.)
Both of these polls are more valid than the bald propaganda engineered by drug war lobbyists Public Safety First, who conjured up a majority of Californians against legalization earlier this week using a loaded question and cherrypicked respondents.