Marijuana

As a Deadline for Legalizing Marijuana in Illinois Approaches, a New Poll Finds Strong Public Support

According to the survey, three-fifth of voters think pot should be legal for recreational use.

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his allies in the state legislature have only one week left in the current session to pass a bill legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Whether they succeed will depend partly on whether legislators believe they have the support of most voters, and a recent poll indicates they do, reinforcing the results of an earlier survey.

In the new poll, commissioned by Think Big Illinois and conducted by the Global Strategy Group in late April and early May with a sample of 802 registered voters, 60 percent of respondents said they supported "legalizing recreational marijuana, taxing it, and regulating it just like alcohol," while 35 percent opposed that policy. Those results are similar to the numbers from a March poll of 1,000 registered voters by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, which found that 66 percent favored "the legalization of recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol." Given the statistical margins of error (plus or minus 3.5 and 3.1 percentage points, respectively), these findings are essentially the same.

By contrast, a survey of 625 registered voters commissioned by the anti-pot group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and conducted in early May by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found that 41 percent supported "legalizing commercial production, use and sale of marijuana for recreational use." Although several Illinois news outlets reported that the Mason-Dixon poll showed public support for legalization was slipping, it actually showed that support had risen by 78 percent since a similar SAM-sponsored poll in November 2017.

The gap between the Mason-Dixon poll and the other two surveys illustrates how big an impact the wording of questions can have. Instead of asking voters whether or not they supported legalization, SAM presented them with four options: 1) "keep the current policy of decriminalization and medical marijuana," 2) "keep the current policy of decriminalization and medical marijuana but also allow for past misdemeanor marijuana convictions to be expunged," 3) "change the current policy of decriminalization by legalizing commercial production, use and sale of marijuana for recreational use," or 4) "make all marijuana use illegal."

SAM argues that its preferred framing provides a more nuanced measure of public opinion. But presenting four options instead of two is bound to dilute support for recreational legalization, and it does not accurately reflect the decision confronting state legislators. SAM also misrepresented current law by telling respondents that "personal marijuana possession is already decriminalized in Illinois." In fact, possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana—about a third of an ounce, easily a personal-use amount—is still a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail for a first offense and a felony punishable by one to six years in prison for a second offense.

Perhaps most important, SAM stripped the issue of relevant context by omitting any reference to alcohol or to regulation. The alcohol analogy makes marijuana legalization more logically appealing, while the mention of regulation is surely reassuring to many people.

Even with those advantages, SAM's poll found that just 9 percent of voters thought marijuana should be completely illegal, down from 18 percent in the group's 2017 survey. That's a pretty decisive rejection of a policy that prevailed throughout the country from 1937, when Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act, until 1996, when California became the first state to allow medical use.

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31 responses to “As a Deadline for Legalizing Marijuana in Illinois Approaches, a New Poll Finds Strong Public Support

  1. Marijuana is legal if you want it.

    Free your mind and your ass will follow.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiqmEibSY0I

    1. appreciate the mothership link. the kingdom of heaven is within.

      1. all the best – I just smoked a bowl and feeling fine.

    2. SAM can suck a bag of dicks, but I really think they’d prefer it up the ass.

  2. They will tax the crap out of it and price it over street dealer cost.

    1. Would still buy it that way if it means I can go to a shop instead of having be on drug dealer time (“yeah, I’ll be there in 5 minutes” … 5 hours later … “yeah, I’ll be there 5 minutes.”).

      1. Smoke a bowl while you’re waiting…

      2. your guy sucks. 🙂

  3. OT: The state of the psychiatry profession today.

    If you want to model the APA, you could do worse than a giant firehose that takes in pharmaceutical company money at one end, and shoots lectures about social justice out the other.

    I love Scott Alexander.

    1. Shit, Sevo’ed the link. Second attempt.

  4. illegality of the product has never stopped anyone I know … I don’t get the race to hand over the keys to a government

    1. We aren’t handing anything over to the government. The black market will continue to exist as it always does, but there will be an additional legal path as well. If anything its taking a few keys off the government’s keyring

      1. >>>The black market will continue to exist as it always does

        does it? i genuinely don’t know. colorado is the only place i’ve purchased it legally, and we took it *to* colorado for 20 years before it was legal … it’s not like i had a guy @Steamboat

        >>>handing anything over to the government

        it’s cheaper in Dallas than ever and i’m not taxed on it by any authority … this is my government angle.

        1. Well if it remains cheaper on the black market then the government won’t make much revenue off the taxes because people will continue to buy it where its cheaper. In Chicago you can buy all kinds of legal, but heavily taxed, things on the black market such as alcohol and cigarettes.

          But the government loses the ability to bust anyone who just has marijuana on them because they won’t be able to prove it wasn’t purchased legally. Cops also lose the “I thought I smelled marijuana” excuse to search people’s cars, and per a recent case in Colorado, cops may lose the ability to use drug sniffing dogs to establish probable cause (at least until they train a new batch that doesn’t alert on marijuana)

          Any step towards freedom is good in my book, even if its not all the way there yet

          1. I hadn’t really thought of all that yet, good points. Legalizing MJ has so many incidental benefits when it comes to curtailing the criminal activities of law enforcement.

          2. fair enough. and agreed on the less power for L.E. points.

          3. That’s a major component of the drama going on over marijuana in California. They’re really disappointed in the amount of revenue that flowed in from “legal” weed.

            $$ Can’t imagine why. $$

          4. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    2. By “hand over the keys to a government”, I trust you mean handing over the keys to protecting the property rights of the growers, distributors and retail businesses selling THC product.

      Because that’s one area I’d really like the black market to not have to do — protecting the property rights of businesses is a legitimate function of government best not left to street gangs.

      1. >>>protecting the property rights of the growers

        i protect my own and don’t distribute. if it goes fully legit, like we can *grow* w/o trouble, then okay … if they’re just going to let it be taxable commerce and only Coke & Pepsi can make it they can fuck off

        1. Uh, I meant that right now, if your plants are stolen.. I wouldn’t suggest calling the cops. Once its legalized, it becomes a theft you can report (so you won’t need to gather the bois and go dispense street justice).

          1. true.

  5. I just have to say something about a three fifths compromise…

    1. +1 LOL

  6. Does that thought cross your mind every time you hear someone mention a 60-40 split?

  7. For all you control freaks out there, don’t worry.
    Weed is still considered illegal by the feds.
    I hope this allows you to sleep more easily.

  8. Yes Illinois, legalize weed, and get rid of the FOID. Why do I have to pass a background check to get a card and then pass another background check to buy guns?

  9. “legalizing recreational marijuana, taxing it, and regulating it just like alcohol,”

    I support 100% one third of that proposal. Being Illinois the pot industry will be handed over to a few connected individuals, just like they did the casinos, the lottery and the parking meters. It will be illegal for anyone else to engage in weed commerce and arrests and incarceration will continue.

    1. That’s why legalization in Ohio failed. Moving directly to crony-capitalism. Anyone should be free to cultivate. Just imagine the cultivars/strains that would result from hobbyists!

  10. […] In the new poll, commissioned by Think Big Illinois and conducted by the Global Strategy Group in late April and early May with a sample of 802 registered voters, 60 percent of respondents said they supported “legalizing recreational marijuana, taxing it, and regulating it just like alcohol,” while 35 percent opposed that policy. Those results are similar to the numbers from a March poll of 1,000 registered voters by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, which found that 66 percent favored “the legalization of recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol.” Given the statistical margins of error (plus or minus 3.5 and 3.1 percentage points, respectively), these findings are essentially the same. [Read more at Reason] […]

  11. Polls like this SAM one, which are engineered to produce the lobby group’s preferred result, drive me crazy. You have to choose between legalization and expunging past convictions. “More nuanced” my ass.

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