The Bangor Daily News reported late last night that a new Critical Insights poll conducted this past march showed 55% of respondents, a mix of registered voters and likely voters, favored legalizing marijuana. The questions regarding marijuana legalization in the poll were funded by the Marijuana Policy Project, in other words, the marijuana industry. As I was quoted in the above linked story, I will hold a healthy amount of skepticism for a poll commissioned and paid for by the marijuana industry.
That being said, it is important to point out that the Critical Insights poll from Spring 2015, also commissioned and paid for by marijuana legalization interests, indicated 65% favored legalizing marijuana. This is a statistic that has been championed by the marijuana legalization advocates many, many times over the course of the past year. This means that since 2015, the marijuana legalization movement in Maine is actually losing support, 10 points worth, according to their own commissioned polls.
Legalization advocates will point to past victories in Colorado, Washington, and recent victories in Oregon and Alaska to point to a wave of inevitability. On the one hand, we saw legalization defeated in Ohio in 2015. Additionally, one must point out that voters in Oregon and Alaska didn’t have the benefit of the information on the consequences of legalization in Colorado and Washington that we have now. They didn’t get to hear about the increased ER admissions, soaring rates of young children poisoned because or THC edibles, and increased incidents involving marijuana in schools. Indeed just this past week, as I reported in yesterdays article, we’ve seen new reports that show increase marijuana-impaired fatal car crashes, a black market that continues to thrive, and increased rates of marijuana arrests for young minority populations in Colorado .
This may be a prime factor in why you are seeing softening support for this initiative within the Critical Insights polling. Seasoned politicos involved in ballot initiatives have remarked to me that this is not a great position for an initiative to be in at this point in terms of the polling. Historically, voters will default to “no” on these types of questions, especially where it will represent such a huge change for communities. If the polling for this campaign is already trending down in Spring 2016, they may find they have a very tough climb to win in November.