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Washington pot legalizers get $1 million after strong poll results

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, July 23, 2012 13:25 EDT
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Two women share a marijuana cigarette. Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
 
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Over the course of a single weekend, Washington state’s marijuana legalization initiative received more than $1 million from some wealthy donors, who kicked in their cash a day after a poll found that voters favor the initiative by an overwhelming margin.

The massive fundraising haul came thanks to the generosity of just four donors who contributed $1.25 million over the weekend to New Approach Washington, the group behind Initiative 502, which is currently planning several big media advertising buys in August.

According to The Seattle Times, Progressive Insurance founder Peter Lewis chipped in $450,000 of that total. Joining Lewis, the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance, the ACLU of Washington and travel agent Rick Steves helped round out the take. The paper noted that New Approach raised a total of just $1.7 million prior to last weekend’s fundraising bonanza.

The proposed laws would license businesses to produce and sell marijuana, allow adults over age 21 to possess up to one ounce of the drug and give police the ability to test drivers they think may be operating a vehicle under the influence. Should the law pass in November, state officials will have a full year to develop and implement the policies.

New Approach’s latest money haul came at just the right time, too. Polling group SurveyUSA announced on Saturday that its latest results in Washington came back overwhelmingly in favor of legalization, with 55 percent supporting the initiative and 32 percent in opposition. An additional 13 percent remained undecided, but even if all the undecided voters came down against the initiative, that wouldn’t quite make up the gap for the opposition.

The poll also found that virtually all age demographics are in favor of legalization, but the only age group that did not produce a majority in support are people aged 65 or older, where 45 percent were in favor but 43 percent were opposed. Surprisingly, support for the initiative was highest among persons ages 50-64, who the survey found backed legalization 66 percent to 20 percent.

The survey also found that people who indicated support for President Barack Obama (D) were much more likely to support legalization than the supporters of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R). That crossover applied to the Republican-Democrat similarly divide on the initiative: whereas 68 percent of Washington Democrats are in favor, 51 percent of Washington Republicans are opposed. Interestingly, it also showed that people with less education are more likely to support prohibition, whereas more educated individuals were more likely to support legalization.

The FBI said last year that more than 850,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2010, making up more than half of all drug arrests in the U.S.
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Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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