At least three states are likely to vote on marijuana-legalization initiatives in 2012, but the measures in Colorado and Washington — two states with legalized medical pot and some permissive local laws — may stand the best chances of succeeding, having already qualified for the respective November ballots. “These are going to be serious campaigns,” said Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the national drug-policy reform group Drug Policy Alliance. “Each one has a decent shot of becoming the first state in the country to embrace this policy change.”
Backers of Washington’s I-502 initiative, to tax and regulate the production and sale of marijuana statewide, have already raised $1.2 million since the beginning of their signature drive in 2011. In Colorado, the campaign for a similar initiative says it has attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars through Marijuana Policy Project, a national pot-legalization group.
“Bringing this issue before voters in a presidential year guarantees better turnout in terms of demographics that support this issue,” said Alison Holcomb, who heads the Washington ACLU’s drug-policy program and is “on loan,” as she puts it, as an in-kind political contribution to run the New Approach Washington campaign behind I-502. Legalizers claim that private polling looks sunny in Colorado and Washington. “There’s a modest majority in favor, but it’s not a substantial margin,” Nadelmann said, and a slew of minor public polls, not considered reliable by ABC News, have bolstered the confidence of organizers.
A Los Angeles Times poll this month showed that 50 percent of Californians oppose marijuana legalization, while 46 percent support it, mirroring that state’s Proposition 19′s Election Day vote share. Then again, an October Gallup poll clocked national pot-legalization support at a record-high 50 percent, eclipsing opposition for the first time.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the pro-legalization Libertarian Party presidential candidate, predicted in early 2011 that marijuana legalization was two years from a tipping point, when politicians like himself could openly discuss its policy merits and actually get elected. National surveys have trended in advocates’ favor, but results haven’t shown it at November polls. The two 2012 initiatives will at least supply another reference point.
Make sure all your stoner buddies are registered to vote, Greenies. There’s lots more to this interesting story at our source, ABC News.
[images: Google Colorado & Washington]