A solid majority of registered voters in Washington State say they plan to support I-502, an initiative to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults over the age of 21. A new SurveyUSA poll found 55 percent support the ballot initiative, while just 32 percent oppose the measure. From SurveyUSA:

A state initiative would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution and possession for people 21 and over. It would remove state criminal and civil penalties for limited possession of marijuana, impose an excise tax on marijuana sales and earmark some revenue for substance abuse prevention, research and education. Should the measure be enacted into law?

Yes …………. 55%
No…………… 32%
Not Sure …. 13%

It is important to note that this poll uses basically the same official language to describe the measure as will appear on the ballot this November.  Sometimes initiative poll questions that simply ask about the general concept are less informative.  This poll, which uses the exact language voters will be presented at the election should be more accurate.

As we have seen in most polls about marijuana legalization, there is a large age and partisan divide. The poll found that a majority of all groups under age 65 support the initiative, while only a slim plurality of people over 65 support it. The poll also found that large majorities of Democrats and Independents in Washington think marijuana should be legalized, but a majority of Republicans oppose the measure. As a result, who actually turns out to vote will be very important to the fate of the measure.

The fact that the I-502 is polling at over 50 percent and leading by a 23 point margin means it has a very real chance of winning this November. Even if the vast majority of undecided voters break against the measure, which is normally how the undecided end up voting when it comes to ballot initiatives, I-502 would still win as long as it simply holds all the people who currently support it.

By comparison, at this point in 2010 SurveyUSA found Proposition 19, an initiative to legalize marijuana in California, was polling at just 50 percent yes to 40 percent no. Prop 19 eventually failed narrowly, with 46.5 percent voting yes to 53.5 percent voting no. At no point in 2010 did any public polling find that Prop 19 was leading by as large a margin as I-502 has in this new poll.