Election Predictions For Weed Legalization Show We're Headed In A Green Direction
With all of the drama surrounding the two candidates in the presidential election this year, it's easy to overlook how there are other decisions to make on the Nov. 8 ballot. In some states, one of these decisions will be on marijuana legalization. But ahead of the election, what are the predictions for weed legalization? Nine states will vote on making medicinal and/or recreational marijuana legal.
For marijuana legalization supporters, things don't look too bad. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 57 percent of adults support weed legalization. This year, five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada — will vote on whether to make marijuana legal recreationally. As Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and the District of Columbia have already passed recreational weed laws, the five states would continue in the pattern of legalization, and could add California — a state which constitutes the sixth-largest economy in the world.
On other ballots, four states will vote to legalize medicinal marijuana, which is already legal in half of the states in the U.S. Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota voters will decide whether they want to join in on the growing medicinal marijuana trend.
Let's take a look at the chances in each state of passing legalization legislation:
On Oct. 20, The Arizona Republic released a poll of Arizona residents showing that 50 percent of those polled favored weed legalization for recreational use. Only 42 percent were against it, and 8 percent were undecided. Early voting in the state has already begun, and the paper noted that the polled numbers were mostly unchanged from its August 2016 poll. So it's likely that Proposition 205 will pass in the state.
Despite California's inability to get recreational marijuana legislation to pass in 2010, this year is likely to see greater odds. The chance of Proposition 64 passing is pretty good. The O.C. Register recently reported Survey USA's findings indicated that 50 percent of respondents favor passing Prop 64, while 41 percent oppose the legislation.
However, according to Ballotpedia, the average polls from the last few months indicate a higher favorability of 59 percent for and 34 percent against. Those over the age of 21 will probably be able to smoke legally, barring some unlikely last-minute change of opinions.
Question 1 in Maine is also expected to pass, with those for the legislation holding a pretty solid lead against those who aren't. The latest poll out of The Portland Press Herald from September shows that 53 percent of respondents were in favor of Question 1, while only 38 percent opposed.
The paper also found (probably unsurprisingly) that younger voters were overwhelmingly in favor of the statute. Nearly 70 percent of respondents ages 18-34 said they would vote yes. It's important to note, though, that the law would be only applicable to those over 21. The measure holds majority all the way up until the over 65 age bracket, where support falls to 35 percent. Overall, that's a really good chance for legalization to happen.
Another state in the Northeast will have the chance to legalize recreational marijuana with Question 4. So far, the average polling in Massachusetts indicates a passing of the bill, with 50 percent support and 42 percent against, according to Ballotpedia. In a closer look at the most recent poll from WBUR, 55 percent of respondents said they were for the passing of Question 4, while only 40 said they were against it.
The latest poll was held in October, and support has risen from September's WBUR poll, which indicated 50 percent support for the measure. If voting reflects the surge in support, then Question 4 should have little trouble moving forward.
Voters will decide on Question 2 to legalize recreational marijuana for those over the age of 21. Although Democratic Sen. Harry Reid has said he would vote against it, the latest Las Vegas Review-Journal poll revealed that 47 percent of respondents supported Question 2, and 43 percent did not. It's a close number, but just might be enough for the measure to pass on Election Day.
While the Arkansas Supreme Court struck Issue 7, a separate medical marijuana proposal, from the Nov. 8 ballot on Oct. 27, Issue 6, regarding medical marijuana, still remains for voters to decide. The difference between the two propositions was in the restrictions and regulations of medicinal marijuana. Issue 7 would have allowed patients to grow their own weed if they didn't live near a dispensary.
According to polls listed on Ballotpedia, Issue 6 has seen decreasing support since June. The latest poll from Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College showed only 45 percent of respondents support Issue 6, while 50 percent oppose. Certainly, public opinion could shift, but it's hard to say whether that will happen or not.
The Sunshine State will once again attempt to legalize medical marijuana. Because the law is being introduced as an amendment, it will need 60 percent of the votes in order to pass. In 2014, it received just under the needed support, at 58 percent, according to The Panama City News Herald.
The latest poll from Anzalone Liszt Grove Research has Amendment 2 passing at 74 percent, well above the threshold it needs to get to become law. According to Ballotpedia, a average of polls shows the level of support at 70 percent. It's almost certain that this time around, medical marijuana will become legal in the state.
In Montana, Initiative 182 does not look like it's going to receive the support it needs to pass. According to a survey by Lee Newspapers in Montana, 51 percent of respondents said they would vote against the initiative. Only 44 percent of respondents indicated that they supported medical marijuana. According to The Billings Gazette, Democrats overall favored the initiative, while Republicans opposed it.
Although no recent polls were found for North Dakota residents' opinions of marijuana legalization, the last survey from 2014 indicates that they are somewhat in support of passing a law for medical use. A poll from University of North Dakota College of Business and Public Administration found that 47 percent of those polled supported medical marijuana, while 41 percent opposed. It's completely possible that medical marijuana has gained more support in the state since then, but it looks like we're just going to have to wait until Election Day to know for sure whether Measure 5 will pass or not.
Granted, not all voters were polled in the various surveys represented here, but it certainly gives you an idea of what to expect from each state following the election. We'll have to wait to see what the final votes come down to and how much of America will be legally able to use marijuana.