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article imageHalf of Massachusetts voters are OK with legal weed

By Ryan Hite     Jul 6, 2014 in Crime
Boston - A new poll conducted by a Massachusetts newspaper indicates that about half of voters there would vote for a measure that would legalize marijuana.
Nearly half of Massachusetts registered voters would support the legalization of marijuana, according to a new poll by the Boston Globe that suggests the state could be up for a ballot campaign to legalize the drug in 2016.
Forty-eight percent of likely voters said they would support a ballot making it legal for adults over 21 to consume or possess limited amounts of marijuana, while about 47 percent said they would oppose it. Five percent said they do not know.
The results indicate that widespread support for legalization has moved from the political fringes only a few years ago, particularly among younger voters, baby boomers, and Democrats. Many older voters, independents, and Republicans remain opposed to casual use of it.
The growing public acceptance of the drug has also been captured in many national surveys that show that while Americans strongly opposed the legalization of marijuana from the 1970s through the late 1990s and now it is about equal.
Advocates are trying to place a legalization measure on the ballot in Massachusetts and five more states in 2016, hoping to build on the passage of similar bills in Colorado and Washington back in 2012.
Supporters have targeted Massachusetts because voters there strongly approved a measure that decriminalized possession of small amounts of it in 2008 and allowed its use for medical purposes in 2012.
“I don’t want to underestimate the value of a good campaign on either side,” which could shift public support for legalization in either direction, said John Della Volpe, which conducted the poll for the Boston Globe. But the results suggested that, “You’ve got a trend toward acceptance, and this bodes pretty well for the proponents.”
The telephone survey of about 600 likely voters was conducted from June 22 to June 24 and from June 29 to July 1. The margin of error was 4 percentage points for the survey overall and 5.1 percentage points for a narrower sample of Democratic primary voters.
The poll indicated that legalization would not encourage more people to use the drug.
If marijuana were legalized theoretically, 10 percent of likely voters said they would definitely or probably use it. That is about equal to the 9 percent who said they currently use it, either regularly or once in the past year. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they had used the drug, but not in the past year. Fourty-nine percent said they had never used it.
The social stigma around the drug may also be lifting.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents said their perception of a friend would not change if they learned that person used marijuana recreationally. That result was the same for older and younger voters who were divided on other marijuana-related questions.
The poll found that some concerns that the current medical marijuana law may be too lenient in Massachusetts. The regulations allow patients to purchase up to 10 ounces of marijuana every 60 days if a doctor deems it medically necessary. This amounts to approximately 500 joints over two months and has led some groups to worry that the drug could be sold on the black market.
Forty-seven percent said they agreed that the 10-ounce limit is excessive, while 36 percent said it was appropriate and 17 percent said they don't know.
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