Marijuana Legalization Looks Likely in Three States

Polling also suggests Florida will become the first Southern state to allow medical use.


Jacob Sullum

According to the latest American Values Survey, conducted last month by the Public Religion Research Institute, a record 63 percent of Americans favor "making the use of marijuana legal," up from 43 percent in 2012 and 44 percent last year. That result, which was released on Tuesday, comes a week after Gallup reported that 60 percent of Americans think "the use of marijuana should be made legal," a record for that survey, and two weeks after the Pew Research Center reported that 57 percent of respondents in its latest survey endorsed that proposition, yet another record. But as Washington Post drug policy blogger Christopher Ingraham notes, these results do not necessarily signal a clean sweep for the nine marijuana initiatives on state ballots a week from Tuesday, since the surveys use national samples and do not ask about production and distribution of cannabis.

A look at the latest initiative-specific polling suggests that marijuana will be legalized for recreational use in California, Maine, and Massachusetts, while Florida will become the first Southern state to recognize marijuana as a medicine. General legalization looks iffier in Arizona and Nevada, while medical marijuana intiatives seem headed for defeat in Arkansas and Montana. A lack of recent polling makes the outcome in North Dakota harder to predict. Here is the breakdown:

Recreational Marijuana

Arizona: Support for Proposition 205 in three polls conducted since my last update on October 6 averages 48 percent.

California: Support for Proposition 64 in two new polls averages more than 55 percent. The average for all eight polls conducted so far this year is 59 percent.

Maine: Two polls conducted in March and September found about 53 percent of voters favor Question 1.

Massachusetts: A new poll, completed last week, puts support for Question 4 at 55 percent. The average for September and October, based on four polls, is 53 percent.

Nevada: Support for Question 2 in two new polls averages 50 percent, slightly less than the seven-poll average for the year.

Medical Marijuana

Arkansas: A new poll, conducted last week, puts support for Issue 6 and Issue 7 (both of which would legalize medical use) at 45 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

Florida: Amendment 2 needs approval from 60 percent of voters to win. A new poll, sponsored by the Yes on 2 campaign and completed last week, puts support at 74 percent, about the same as the three-poll average for September. The 2016 average, based on 12 polls, is about 70 percent.

Montana: A new poll, completed on October 12, puts support for I-182, which would expand patient access to marijuana, at 44 percent.

North Dakota: I still can't find polling specific to Initiated Statutory Measure 5. According to a 2014 poll, 47 percent of likely voters thought marijuana should be legal for recreational use.

UPDATE: On Thursday the Arkansas Supreme Court disqualified Issue 7, the more permissive of that state's two medical marijuana initiatives. The court said 12,000 of the signatures collected for Issue 7 were invalid because the measure's supporters had failed to comply with state rules for registering petition circulators.