Careful who you trust to interpret poll results. You may have seen the poll that was trumpeted just in time for 4/20, supposedly showing that “55 percent of Americans oppose legalizing marijuana.”
The headlines about the April 20 Associated Press/CNBC poll (PDF) on marijuana legalization read “Most In U.S. Against Legalizing Pot,” but Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim dug down into the results and found that one of the poll’s questions actually appears to show majority support for legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol.
“[W]hen pot is compared to alcohol, support for reforming the laws surges,” Grim writes. “Forty-four percent of respondents said that ‘the regulations on marijuana [should]be the same as those for alcohol.’ Another 12 percent said they should be ‘less strict,’ meaning that a full 56 percent support the policy change — perhaps the highest number ever recorded in favor of legalization. (Alcohol is, after all, legal.)”
Kind of odd, wouldn’t you say? The results of a nationwide poll show that a substantial majority — 56 percent of Americans — support either the same restrictions or looser restrictions on marijuana than on alcohol, which is already legal. But somehow, that gets reported in the national press as “Most In U.S. Against Legalizing Pot”?
“Interesting results, indeed, and it’s too bad this bit got buried in most of the coverage of this week’s marijuana polls,” Tom Angell of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) told Toke of the Town.
The poll of 1,000 Americans was taken by polling firm GfK Roper for CNBC’s “Marijuana & Money” report. The margin of error was 4.3 percentage points.
By a 2-1 margin, respondents said that if pot were legal, they would favor allowing the government to tax sales of cannabis.
A CBS News poll, also released on April 20, showed that 55 percent of voters in the American West favor legalizing marijuana.
A new SurveyUSA poll has the California legalization initiative up 56-42, with support strongest among those 18 to 34. Voters older than 65 oppose it 54-39; unfortunately, they are also the most likely to vote in the upcoming midterm election.