State Capitol News
1:10 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

New Poll Suggests Arizonans Ready for Legal Pot

Voters in this state may be ready to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington residents and make marijuana use by anyone legal. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.

Credit npr.org

A new statewide poll shows 51 percent of those asked said the drug, now authorized for those with medical clearance, should be made available to all. That compares with 41 percent opposed.

Jim Haynes, president of the Behavior Research Center, said the numbers are little short of a sea-change in public opinion. He said while this is his first statewide poll on the question, a 1974 national survey found legalization opposed by a margin of close to 3-1. Now, nationwide numbers pretty much track what was found here, with 54 percent in support. Haynes said potentially most surprising is the idea has the backing of nearly 40 percent of those in 55-plus age group.

“A lot of us, because I’m in that category, have evolved in their thinking over time to the question of is this really, I mean, OK, it’s a crime to use this product right now. But is it really a crime that’s worth all the money that’s put into policing, prosecuting and incarcerating people?” Haynes asked.

Overall, Haynes said younger people are far more accepting. And that can be good news for a planned 2016 ballot measure as older voters die off and younger ones come of age.