Polling data indicates strong support for cannabis legalization ballot measures in Arizona and Montana, despite a weak showing of enthusiasm from Republicans in both states. In all, voters in five states will see initiatives to legalize the use of marijuana on their ballots for the general election in November.
In Arizona, the results of a poll from OH Predictive Insights show that 55% of likely voters support Proposition 207, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, while 37% oppose the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. The poll showed the strongest support among Democrats, with 79% in favor of the measure, while 72% of independents also said they would vote for the initiative. In contrast, only 23% of Republicans said that they would vote for Prop. 207.
Last week, the editorial board for the state’s largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic, endorsed the initiative, which would also establish and regulate the recreational cannabis industry and expunge some convictions for past marijuana offenses. That support was followed by an endorsement from the state’s second-largest newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star. The paper’s editorial board noted that nationally, the federal prohibition of marijuana “has reigned supreme for decades.”
“The results have been disastrous, especially for people of color and poor communities. Here in Arizona, a Black person is three times as likely as a white person to be arrested for marijuana possession, according to the ACLU,” the editors continued. “Arizonans can take change into their own hands and join six other Western states and 11 nationally by rejecting prohibition and its accompanying burdens. While a 2016 voter initiative failed, Proposition 207 is better, both policy-wise and for potential consumers.”
Montana Democrats Also Keen On Legal Pot
Democratic voters in Montana also showed a preference for two related measures that would legalize recreational marijuana use and sales, with 70% saying they would vote for the initiatives. Independent voters showed strong support for legalization as well, with 59% in favor of Initiative 190 (I-190), which would legalize recreational cannabis use and sales, and Constitutional Initiative 118 (CI-118), which would allow the state legislature to set the legal age for purchasing cannabis at 21 and older. Again, support among Republicans lagged behind the rest of the electorate, with only 27% of GOP voters saying that they would vote in favor of the ballot measures.
Overall, 49% of those surveyed for the statewide poll by Montana State University said that they would vote in favor of the two ballot questions. Another 39% said they were opposed to the measures, while 10% said they were undecided. Younger voters were far more likely to vote in favor of the two cannabis legalization measures. More than 60% of poll respondents aged 18 to 60 said they would vote in favor of I-190 and CI-118. However, a majority of voters age 60 and older said that they would vote against the measures.
MSU political science professor David Parker, one of the designers of the poll, said that support for legal cannabis could translate into more votes for Democratic candidates on the ballot.
“I think it is important to think about a ballot as a complete organic entity,” Parker said. “Young voters strongly are in favor of the measure, and they tend to be Democratic leaning.”
In addition to Arizona and Montana, voters in New Jersey will also decide on a recreational cannabis legalization ballot measure. Mississippi ballots will include two separate measures to legalize medical marijuana, while voters in South Dakota will decide on both medicinal cannabis and recreational pot.