Clarity about the support enjoyed by Michigan's dueling legalization of marijuana ballot proposals was gained via a new poll released on September 8.
The Poll, conducted by Public Sector Consulting (PSC) and Michigan Radio, yielded an overall 55.7% Support for legalizing the adult use of marijuana in Michigan, with 40.2% Opposed and 4.2% Unsure. The poll involved 600 registered Michigan voters who identified themselves as Very Likely to vote in the 2016 Presidential elections.
The pollsters went further, asking legalization supporters to identify which method of legalization they prefer. Most voters supported a degree of state control and taxation, and most favored a proposal that allows local cultivation and home growing of marijuana.
That corresponds to the proposal offered by the MILegalize group. MILegalize is the common name used by the Michigan Comprehensive Cannabis Law Reform Initiative. Their Board is composed of more than a dozen grass-roots activists, attorneys, businesspersons and one journalist who have been leaders among the state's marijuana movement for years- in some cases, decades. "This says that people prefer the MILegalize approach," said Jamie Lowell, a Board member of MILegalize.
MILegalize kicked off their petition signature drive on June 25. Their campaign has featured Town Hall meetings and rallies in cities across the state.
Less favored by the citizens was a proposal that mirrors the one offered by the mysterious Michigan Cannabis Commission (MCC). Nobody knows who runs the organization, but their frontman is a guy who refuses to wear a suit and their mascot is a pipe-smoking gnome with a beard shaped like a pot leaf. Their signature drive began shortly after the MILegalize proposal launched. They are not supported by any state marijuana advocacy organization and are using paid petitioning specialists.
Even lesser in favor was the idea that marijuana should be legalized but not taxed by the state.
The Poll announcement from PSC reads, in part:
Are voters willing to legalize recreational marijuana? More possible than not. We presented Michigan's likely voters with a choice between existing potential ballot proposals that seek to legalize recreational marijuana or to not legalize recreational marijuana essentially maintaining current law. The results indicate that this is not a slam dunk, but likely will get passed in some form, eventually. The most frequent response was recreational marijuana use should not be legalized in Michigan (40 percent), but a majority (56 percent) of voters favored recreational legalization in one form or another, with a clear preference toward state control and taxation in some form:
- 27 percent think the State of Michigan should tax and control its production and distribution, but allow for local and home-growing operations.
- 21 percent think the State of Michigan should tax and control its production and distribution, with only a limited number of state-approved growers permitted.
- 8 percent think the State of Michigan should NOT tax or control its production and distribution- rather, local governments should make decisions on production, taxation and distribution.
Although the announcement carries the provocative phrase, "The most frequent response was recreational marijuana should not be legalized in Michigan," that is true only because of the way the poll was structured. Any NO vote was tossed into a single category, while YES votes were divided into three different categories. The structure determined that the NO votes would be more numerous, and the phrase by PSC is misleading.
In the Poll notice's Closing Thoughts, the authors opine that they believe if both proposals make it on the November ballot, "Despite majority support... it is not likely that any of the options for legalizing marijuana will be approved by a majority of voters."
That conclusion is predicated on the concept that voters would have to select either the MILegalize or the MCC option. In fact, voters can say YES to both proposals if given the choice.
That majority population that supports legalization will most likely say YES to anything pro-marijuana, and say it twice, meaning both proposals could pass. In that case the winner is the proposal that collects the most 'yes' votes.
"So the wording of the conclusion from PSC is slightly confusing, but it suggests MILegalize has more support" than the opposing petition drive, said MILegalize Chair Jeffrey Hank, an attorney from Lansing.
Abut the voters: nearly 60% of the voters surveyed were of age 50 and older; 75% of the participants were using land lines for their telephone; 80% were white and 55% were female. Oddly enough, more people in this poll identified themselves as Independent (32.5%) than Republican (28.7%), but the majority of respondents identified as Democrat (36.2%).
Editor's note: Rick Thompson is a Board member of the MILegalize organization.
Michigan's next big marijuana conference is one month away! Join Rick Thompson for the Michigan Cannabis Business Development Conference on September 26 at the Holiday Inn Gateway Centre.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles