It's one thing to say you're in favor of legalizing cannabis, but it's another thing entirely to say that while holding a bong.


Asking about legalization in California, Public Policy Polling (PPP) found just 36 percent of respondents were opposed to Proposition 19, which would tax and regulate cannabis. The majority, 52 percent, favor legalization.

But the real story is a separate set of numbers: 38 percent of respondents had used cannabis, while 62 percent said they had not. If only 36 percent of respondents opposed Prop. 19, that means, in a random sampling of 614 California voters, there were more actual cannabis consumers than legalization opponents.

Though a two percent split is probably statistically insignificant, the revaluation is stunning nonetheless.

The poll also sought information on the respondents' political affiliations, age group, race and gender.

Conservatives outnumbered liberals by 33-25 percent, but self-identified moderates dominated the poll at 44 percent. A slim majority (52-48) were women, and the most frequently selected political party were the Democrats, topping Republicans by 46-34 percent.

The firm found majorities of liberals (76) and moderates (51) are in favor of Prop. 19, while only a slim majority (55) of conservatives are opposed. In an ironic twist, PPP also found that recreational cannabis users were more likely to have voted for Sen. John McCain in the last presidential election, edging out Obama-voting pot smokers 69-65 percent.

Support for Prop. 19 was highest among blacks (68) and whites (53), with 50 percent of black respondents saying they've tried cannabis, and another 42 percent of whites answering similarly.

Prop. 19 sees a more support from individuals ages 30-45 than any other demographic, but it's still quite close. Fifty-six percent of 18-29-year-olds are in favor, as are 54 percent of those ages 46-65. In the past, the 46-65 demographic has been the cornerstone of support for the continued prohibition of cannabis. Coupled with seniors, who are largely opposed to legalization, opinion dynamics in the 46-and-older crowd have made a shift in drug policy near impossible.

The voter-sponsored ballot initiative goes up for a vote in California this November. It is opposed by many of the state's elected Democrats, but has received endorsements from a former U.S. surgeon general, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the California Young Democrats and the 200,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Western Council.

The Rand Corporation estimates that if cannabis were legal in California, prices could drop by as much as 80 percent, putting an ounce of finely cultivated buds at just $40 within a few years. The thinktank also estimated that a $50-per-ounce tax could generate up to $1.49 billion for the cash-strapped state in its first year.

Even if Prop. 19 passes, it may not mean anything, as the federal government could annul the law or challenge it in court. President Obama's Department of Justice has taken a hands-off approach to the sales of medical cannabis in states which allow it, but has maintained steadfast opposition to legalization.

A recent Rasmussen poll of Americans nation-wide found that 43 percent favor legalization while 42 percent do not. Most respondents said they expect cannabis will be permitted across the U.S. within a decade.

The PPP poll is available online (PDF link).