Poll: Arizona voters still split on Prop 205 to legalize marijuana

Prop 205 would allow Arizonans 21 and older to possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana, shown here, and to grow as many as six marijuana plants at home. (Photo by Katie Bieri/Cronkite News)

About half of Arizona voters still support Proposition 205, the ballot measure to relax legal restrictions on recreational marijuana use, but the percentage of those opposed increased by two percentage points in recent weeks, according to the most recent Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll.

The poll of registered Arizona voters taken Oct. 10-15 showed the percentage of respondents in favor of Prop 205 remained steady at about 50 percent, while the percentage of respondents who oppose the measure went from about 40 to nearly 42 percent since an August poll. The percentage of undecided voters decreased from 10 percent to 8 percent.

“Voters are responding to the message that taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana is a better way to go,” said Barrett Marson, spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy have released a series of “No on 205” political ads in the recent weeks. One video features two former Colorado politicians who say their state’s legalization of marijuana was a “terrible mistake” that Arizona should not repeat.

A spokesman for the group did not return calls for comment Wednesday.

Arizona residents give several reasons for their stance on Prop 205. Tina Hussain, of Coolidge, supports the measure. She writes in an email that marijuana is “safer than opioids” for pain management.

Others, such as Jason Hein of Seligman, support marijuana use but oppose Prop 205, saying it doesn’t do enough to decriminalize marijuana possession. Cornelius Murphy, of Phoenix said he was undecided on what he called “a complex issue.” Murphy, in an email, says he would like to see people allowed to use marijuana to relieve anxiety but feels there should be serious restrictions to prevent misuse.

In August 2012, a few months before Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 to legalize recreational marijuana, Public Policy Polling released a poll showing 47 percent of likely voters favored the amendment, according to Ballotpedia. Thirty-eight percent opposed it and 15 percent were undecided, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. That same year, Washington voters passed Initiative 502 to legalize recreational marijuana 10 months after an Elway Research poll found 48 percent of 411 likely voters polled supported the measure, Ballotpedia said. Forty-five percent opposed it and 7 percent were undecided, with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The Morrison Institute contracted with Behavior Research Center to conduct the Arizona poll from Oct. 10-15. Using up-to-date voter registration lists, almost 1,700 live land-line and cellphone calls were used to obtain an average of 800 valid responses from registered voters per question. The interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The margin of error fluctuates by question between +/- 2.3 to 4 percentage points.

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