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Friday, August 1, 2014

Poll: Voters in Arkansas support medical marijuana

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 7:01 AM

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An automated poll Tuesday of 850 Arkansas voters found support for medical marijuana, but not for allowing people to grow their own. No measure is on the ballot this fall, but advocates are working already toward 2016.

The poll was part of a survey I mentioned yesterday that was conducted primarily on attitudes to legal sale of alcohol in all Arkansas counties (voters supported 49-32) and included a U.S. Senate question (Pryor over Cotton 48-46).

David Couch, attorney for the Let Arkansas Decide committee that supports alcohol sales, said Arkansans for Responsible Medicine paid for the portion of the polling asking about marijuana. He's also been active in that group.

The results:

Do you support medical marijuana?

Strongly support 37%
Somewhat support 18%
Neutral  8%
Somewhat oppose 8%
Strongly oppose 24%
Unsure 5%

Would you support the proposal to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes if individuals were allowed to grow marijuana in their own homes?

Yes 23%
No 63%
Unsure 14%

Couch says this is the actual question asked regarding medical marijuana.

Would you support a proposal to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes to allow patients with terminal or debilitating conditions to use marijuana if their doctors recommend it? The marijuana would be supplied only though state licensed dispensaries. Would you say you would strongly support the passage of this amendment, somewhat support passage of this amendment, are you neutral, somewhat oppose the passage of this amendment, strongly oppose the passage; or you would like more information before you decide on your support of this amendment.

Couch provided comparative information from October 2012, a live poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner of 500 voters.

As you may know, there will be an initiative on the ballot called the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act. Let me read you the question as you might read it in November.

An act making the medical use of marijuana legal under Arkansas state law, but acknowledging
that marijuana use, possession and distribution for any purpose remains illegal under federal law.

Establishing a system for the cultivation, acquisition and distribution of marijuana for qualifying patients through nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries; authorizing limited cultivation of marijuana by qualifying patients or designated caregivers if the patient lives more than five miles from the nearest nonprofit dispensary; requiring that in order to become a qualifying patient, a  person submit to the state a written certification from a physician that they are suffering from a qualifying medical condition and establishing an initial list of qualifying medical conditions.

If the election were held today, would you vote YES in support of this initiative or vote NO and oppose this initiative?

Definitely yes  34
Probably yes  11
Lean yes 3
Lean no  3
Probably no 7
Definitely no  36
(Don't know/Refused)  6

Total yes  48
Total no 46

As it turned out, the measure received 48.56% of the vote. Many believed inclusion of a provision for limited personal cultivation was a key wedge issue used by opponents of the measure. 

Post-election polling by Talk Business/Hendrix College suggested voters would be more favorably inclined toward a tweaked proposal. Said Couch:

Looking at the 2012 poll and the listening to people on the campaign trial I was convinced that the “grow your own” was the real problem that a lot of people had. So I asked the second question above and I think that the results verify my hunch. 63% of the people don’t support people being about to grow medical marijuana.

I do plan to resubmit that proposal to the AG for approval soon and hope to find funding to get it on the ballot in 2016.

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