The likelihood seems to be increasing by the day that California voters will legalize marijuana in the November election.
A legalization referendum is already slated to appear on the ballot, and most observers believe it will pass. That would make California by far the largest market for legal cannabis anywhere on Earth. The state already dominates on the black and medical markets.
As evidence of the plausibility of a reform victory, advocates point to yet another new poll showing strong public support for the idea. The Public Policy Institute of California released a new survey in May showing 60 percent of likely voters say they generally support legalizing pot. The poll doesn’t judge specific backing for the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the actual question that will appear on the ballot.
The new survey is in line with another recent poll that reported similar 60 percent support. Voter approval of legalization has been increasing steadily for many years, though previous efforts to legalize fell flat in 2010 and 2014, mostly because support hadn’t yet reached a solid majority.
Minority oppose legalization
Only 37 percent of likely voters said in the new poll that they oppose legalizing marijuana. The wide gap suggests that even if voters aren’t especially familiar with the AMUA, they’re likely to approve it.
The campaign to make that happen is led by tech billionaire Sean Parker, a former Facebook president who plans to give millions to the legalization cause by November. The effort has won substantial endorsements, including those of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California branch of the NAACP, and the California Medical Association.
The PPIC poll marks an increase from the same time in 2015, when it measured legalization support at 54 percent, with 44 percent opposed.
Voters ready for reform
“California seems poised to show its blue state credentials in the fall,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC. “Voters today are signaling their early support for Democratic statewide candidates, tax initiatives, and marijuana legalization.”
If voters pass the AUMA Nov. 8, it would allow the purchase, possession, and use of up to one ounce of marijuana for any adult over 21. It would also impose taxes and regulations on a newly legal recreational cannabis industry. Those responsibilities would fall to a Bureau of Marijuana Control within the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
For all its support, the AUMA has attracted plenty of opponents. Several large groups that represent police and prison guards are pouring money into an anti-legalization campaign. These industries stand to lose millions of dollars in salaries and benefits should the number of defendants and inmates drop sharply.
That opposition doesn’t appear likely to have much of an effect, however. Opponents have raised tens of thousands of dollars, supporters millions, with millions more to come. One way or another, it appears legal weed is coming to California.
What do you think? Will legal marijuana pass in California in November? By how much? Drop a comment.