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Support for marijuana legalization in California continues to fall

By John Byrne
Monday, November 1, 2010 8:45 EDT
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The spread of those supporting the legalization of possessing and growing small amounts of marijuana in California and those opposing it has grown to seven points.

According to the latest Field Poll, published Sunday, 42 percent of voters support California’s landmark Proposition 19, with 49 percent opposing. Besides legalization, the measure would also allow local governments to regulate and tax sales.

“The initiative’s chances of success appeared much stronger in September, when a Field Poll showed 49% of likely voters supporting it versus 42% opposing it,” The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire noted Sunday.

“The survey released today also shows, somewhat predictably, how certain subdivisions of voters feel about the measure,” the Wire added. “Democrats support Prop 19 by a slim majority (51%), while Republicans oppose it 65% to 25%. Voters under 40 years old support the initiative 54% to 38%, while voters 65 or older are against it, 63% to 29%.”

Prominent California politicians, including Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) oppose legalization. But on Friday, former Mexican President Vicente Fox announced that he favors Prop. 19.

“How great it would be for California to set this example,” he said, speaking to the W radio network on Wednesday. “May God let it pass. The other U.S. states will have to follow step.”

The former president also criticized his successor’s violent campaign against the drug cartels, suggesting that the country’s path has been ultimately destructive.

“Violence never resolves violence,” he said.

In Mexico — where as little as a kilogram of marijuana can sell for just $80 and generate nearly $7,000 in profits when resold north of the border — at least 28,000 people have died since Mexican President Philippe Calderon launched his campaign against the drug cartels, just three and a half years ago.

However, “Prop 19 proponents say their support for the initiative might be stronger than polls indicate,” Washington Wire notes. “They have been pointing to a trend in polling: Voters are less likely to tell a live pollster about their support for marijuana legalization than an automated pollster.”

A campaign against Prop. 19 by the US Chamber of Commerce fallaciously claims that employers would not be able to discipline stoned workers if the proposition becomes law. Similarly, all of the Democrats running for statewide office in California oppose legalization, as does Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They argue — also fallaciously — that police officers would not be able to pull stoned drivers off the road until an accident happens.

With earlier reporting by Stephen Webster.

 
 
 
 
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