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Advertisement Poll: Nearly Half Of Likely Michigan Voters Favor Legalizing, Taxing Pot


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Nearly half of likely Michigan voters said they favor legalizing and regulating marijuana, and about a quarter of respondants want to keep current marijuana laws in place, according to a poll released Friday.

The results show a continuing shift in public sentiment toward legalizing the drug, said Bernie Porn, president of EPIC-MRA, the Lansing research firm that conducted the poll.

“I think that people are changing their opinions about marijuana. ... There is a receptivity to legalization and the realization that you don’t need to have law enforcement spending the kind of time that they devote to the crimes that people are convicted of because of current marijuana laws,” he said.

In the poll of 600 likely voters, 47% said they favor legalizing marijuana by taxing and regulating it like alcohol. Twenty-six percent said they favor continuing the system of state criminal penalties for marijuana offenses.

In addition, 16% said they would favor replacing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses with a fine, and 4% said they would like to see all state criminal penalties for marijuana offenses repealed. Seven percent were undecided or refused to answer.

The poll was commission by Michigan NORML, the state’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Porn said the poll showed people who identified themselves as Democrats are most in favor of legalizing marijuana possession and use. He also said Republicans were generally more supportive of keeping current marijuana laws than legalizing the drug.

Neil Yashinsky, executive director of Michigan NORML’s Oakland County chapter, said he was encouraged by the survey results.

“Eventually, the politicians will catch up with the people. They will reflect the values of their constituents” and pass a decriminalization effort, he said.

Julie Brenner, executive director of the North Oakland Community Coalition, said she wasn’t surprised by the poll results because public opinion does seem to be shifting. Brenner, while not opposed to medical marijuana use, said she’s worried that widespread legalization will make the substance more accessible to youths. Marijuana poses risks to brain development, she said.

The poll was conducted Sept. 7 through Tuesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Porn said cell phone users made up 20% of the sample.

Porn said a poll in early 2012 asked whether voters would approve a measure to legalize marijuana if it appeared on the ballot. At that time, 50% of people said no, and 45% said yes.

A bill in Lansing proposed by state Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville, would let cities and townships in Michigan decide for themselves whether to allow marijuana distribution centers. Another bill, sponsored by state Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, would serve to decriminalize marijuana throughout the state, making possession of a small amount of the drug tantamount to a traffic violation.



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