The public’s perception of marijuana has steadily changed over the past twenty years, and a new poll in California shows that trend is continuing. People most likely to vote in California’s November 2016 elections say they are supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
The new poll conducted by Probolsky Research is a further indication that legalization may be at hand. Nearly 60 percent of likely voters support marijuana legalization. Those kind of numbers should dramatically shift the debate around legalization in California and the nation. State Democrats were the largest supporters of legalization — 69.4 percent — which is a supermajority, while a majority of Republicans still oppose legalization — 57.8 percent.
Those numbers are encouraging for legalization advocates who suffered a defeat of a similar ballot measure, Proposition 19, in 2010. Prop 19 did not have unified support of legalization advocates because of the way it was written, and because it was put before voters in a non-presidential election cycle, which typically has fewer young voters.
So far, more than twenty proposed ballot legalization measures have been submitted to California Attorney General’s Office for consideration. But one measure, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, has seems to have garnered the most support. The proposed initiative has by far the biggest campaign warchest, $2.25 million, including a $1 million donation by former Facebook President Sean Parker.
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act has also been endorsed by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a 2018 gubernatorial hopeful. Last year, Newsom chaired a Blue Ribbon Commission that brought together a wide variety of community stakeholders, including law enforcement, elected officials, and parents’ groups to consider the best ways to regulate the legal recreational use of marijuana.
Furthermore, the initiative will culminate a trend in the state legislature that has shown a great willingness to normalize the medical marijuana industry through regulation. In the past two years, legislators have considered some twenty medical marijuana related bills, including allowing medical marijuana patients to qualify for organ transplants, farming regulations, and various licensing regulations.