September 27, 2012

How Key Medical Marijuana Measures, Cannabis Legalization Initiatives Are Faring Ahead of Election

Photo of polling station for medical marijuana measures

November could be a huge month for medical marijuana, with voters in two states set to weigh in on MMJ legalization and those in another considering tough new restrictions on dispensaries.

The elections also will have a major impact on the national medical cannabis movement. Residents of three states have the chance to legalize the general use of marijuana – which could have serious implications for existing MMJ businesses.

With less than six weeks to go until Nov. 6, a clearer picture of how voters feel about these measures is emerging.

Here’s how several key initiatives are faring in the most recent polls:

Medical marijuana legalization in

Arkansas – It’s official: A medical marijuana legalization measure will definitely appear on the Arkansas ballot after the state Supreme Court today shot down an attempt to sink the initiative. So what are the chances that it will pass? The latest poll on the issue was taken way back in July. But it still gives a good indication of where locals stand. The poll found that 47% of likely voters surveyed support MMJ legalization compared with 46% who oppose it. The remaining 7% are undecided. That’s a razor-thin margin, and it could easily go either way at this point. But given that Arkansas lies in the heart of the conservative South – where resistance to medical marijuana is strong – the poll numbers are a very positive sign.

Massachusetts – Some MMJ advocates are already chalking up Massachusetts as a win for the medical marijuana movement. It’s looking like a landslide at this point: The latest poll found that 59% of likely voters support the legalization of medical marijuana in the state, while just 35% are opposed. It would be a major surprise – and huge disappointment – if the measure fails. Assuming the polls are accurate, Massachusetts is set to become the 18th state to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana restrictions in…

Montana – A new poll found that 44% of registered voters in the state back a ballot measure that would keep in place strict new medical marijuana regulations that have decimated Montana’s MMJ industry. Just 31% oppose the initiative and want the state to revert to its original, more lenient law passed in 2004. That’s a wide gap, and it will be tough for the MMJ crowd to defeat the measure. But the good news is that 25% of voters are still making up their minds. If medical cannabis advocates can sway the vast majority of these voters, they could sink the bill.

Marijuana legalization in…

Colorado – Voters seem poised to legalize cannabis for adult use in Colorado. A poll conducted earlier this month found support for the legalization measure (called Amendment 64) at about 51%. Roughly 40% of likely voters oppose it, while 8% said they are unsure. That’s a very encouraging sign for marijuana supporters who back legalization. But it’s still unclear how the measure would affect the medical marijuana industry. Some experts say it would create a much bigger market for existing businesses, while others believe it would simply give the federal government an excuse to come in and shut all marijuana-related businesses down.

Washington – The situation in Washington State mirrors the one in Colorado. In fact, support for legalization is even stronger in Washington. The state’s marijuana legalization measure – called Initiative 502 – has the support of 57% of voters, according to the latest poll released on Sept. 11. Just 34% of likely voters said they oppose marijuana legalization, and 9% are not sure yet. The measure should pass easily barring any unforeseen swings in voters sentiment. The odds are that both Colorado and Washington will become the first states in the nation to legalize the general use of marijuana for adults.

Oregon – Things are a lot tighter in Oregon, where the most recent poll shows that 37% of likely voters support a marijuana legalization initiative (Measure 80) compared with 41% who oppose it. With 22% of voters still undecided, the outcome will depend on which side of the debate is more active and pumps more resources into their respective campaigns in the weeks to come.

Image credit: secretlondon123 via flickr

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