Poll: Majority Back Easing Pot Laws

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Oct 2, 2002.

  1. By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
    Source: Arizona Daily Sun

    Arizonans apparently want the right to inhale despite the calls by county prosecutors that they take a deep breath first.
    A new statewide survey shows that 53 percent of those asked support allowing those with a doctor's recommendation to get up to 2 ounces of marijuana a month free from the state Department of Public Safety.

    For everyone else, Proposition 203 also would reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana to a civil offense, punishable by no more than a $250 fine.

    That is bad news for people like Coconino County Attorney Terry Hance who has been on a crusade to keep voters from approving Proposition 203 which would liberalize state drug laws for the third time in less than a decade. And the fact that the survey is only of those who are likely to cast ballots this year means that foes have an uphill battle.

    The same statewide survey of 569 likely voters, conducted between Sept. 26 and 29 by the Social Research Laboratory at Northern Arizona University, also shows voters somewhat confused among the three gaming initiatives that will also be on the ballot this year.

    Even with that, though, they are most likely to back Proposition 202 which is being pushed by a coalition of 17 tribes that keeps casinos confined to reservations. And they are most likely to vote against Proposition 201 which would continue tribal gaming but also permit slot machines at race tracks around the state.

    Arizonans have consistently supported "medical marijuana'' initiatives.

    Hance said he would have no problem with voters approving Proposition 203 if they actually were aware of all the provisions and their implications -- like turning DPS into the state's largest drug dealer.

    "I mean, hell, they're cops, they're not pharmacologists,'' Hance said. "And if someone's really serious about this being used for medical benefit, this is not the way to go about it.''

    Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, another foe of the measure, said even the wording of the poll question confuses the issue.

    It states that Proposition 203 would change the punishment for possession of small amounts of marijuana from possible jail time.

    "You know we can't give jail any more for small amounts of marijuana,'' he said, with a 1996 initiative requiring that first- and second-time offenders must be placed on probation.

    So how does Hance think Proposition 203 can be defeated? He's not sure that's possible.

    "I strongly suspect that it will pass,'' he said. Hance also said that the more liberal attitudes of Flagstaff-area residents makes them more receptive to the pro-203 message.

    The anti-203 message also is plagued by a lack of funding, with the most recent figures showing less than $75,000 in contributions. By contrast, backers -- mainly three financial heavy hitters including University of Phoenix President John Sperling -- have put more than $1.3 million into the campaign.

    The survey has a margin of error of 4.2 percent.

    Source: Arizona Daily Sun (AZ)
    Author: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
    Published: October 2, 2002
    Copyright: 2002 Arizona Daily Sun
    Contact: azdsopinion@azdailysun.com
    Website: http://www.azdailysun.com/

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