Californians Still Oppose Legalization of Marijuana by Narrow Margin

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Only a four-percent difference separates polled California voters in favor of marijuana legalization from those who oppose making pot legal in the Golden State, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Who are the voters favoring and opposing recreational marijuana legalization?

Proponents of making pot legal fall predominantly in the 18 to 49 age demographic and are registered Democrats or independents. Opponents are generally over the age of 50 and registered Republicans. It is noteworthy that 44 percent of polled registered Democrats oppose the legalization of marijuana, which only separates proponents and opponents by six percentage points in this party.

How do Californians feel about medical marijuana?

Voter approval of medical marijuana is still going strong. Eighty percent of polled respondents favored the use of medical marijuana while only 17 percent opposed it.

Is California's opinion changing?

Rasmussen noted in July 2009 that 47 percent of voters favored the legalization and taxation of marijuana. By November 2009, Rasmussen noted support for pot legalization had gone up to 49 percent. Now, in 2012, supporters have lost ground and approval ratings are down to 46 percent.

Have Californians voted on the legalization of recreational marijuana before?

In 2010, voters had the opportunity to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by passing Proposition 19. The Legislative Analyst's Office highlights that Californians could have made it legal for those over the age of 21 to "possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana for personal use." A secondary condition of Prop 19 would have enabled state and local government entities to "regulate and tax commercial marijuana-related activities." The Secretary of State notes that voters rejected Prop 19 with 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent.

Who campaigned in favor of Prop 19? Who opposed it?

ABC News named "the California branch of the NAACP, state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, the California Young Democrats, the Republican Liberty Caucus, the California Council of Churches, and several big labor unions" as primary supporters of marijuana legalization. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and law enforcement groups opposed the measure, as did the White House.

What has changed since the 2010 election?

The California Medical Association has called for the legalization and careful regulation of cannabis to better research the effects of marijuana on their patients. Noting that the decriminalization of marijuana in California has made it possible for patients to access the drug, its current classification as a Schedule 1 substance limits any studies. "There simply isn't the scientific evidence to understand the benefits and risks of medical cannabis," the organization's board chairperson opined.

Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.

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