Californians divided over legalization of marijuana

08:26, May 21, 2010      

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Californians are evenly split over whether to legalize marijuana, with 49 percent favoring and 48 percent against, a newly-released poll showed.

Meanwhile, only a small percentage of the electorate -- about three percent -- remained undecided about the controversial issue, according to the poll published by the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

The poll, conducted last week by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, surveyed 1,168 likely voters.

The split suggests that the proponents of the legalization measure will have to wage an expensive and persuasive campaign, the report noted.

"It's always hard to start out when you're not even at 50 percent," said Mark Baldassare, the institute's president and pollster.

The Tax Cannabis 2010 campaign, which sponsored the initiative, also released a poll Wednesday that found a similar level of support for the measure among registered voters, but with a much higher percentage undecided.

Conducted earlier this month by an independent firm, the survey showed 51 percent of 800 voters support the initiative, while 40 percent oppose it and nine percent are undecided.

"All the polls continue to show that voters remain interested in replacing a failed policy with a more honest, commonsense solution," said Dan Newman, a campaign spokesman.

The polls show a trend that Democrats and independents back legalization, but Republicans heavily oppose it.

Californians are likely to vote over the issue in November.


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