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Despite Plurality in Marijuana Legalization Support, Measure May Not Have Enough Steam to Pass

Youngest Voters and Oldest Voters Self-Report As Least Likely To Have Used Marijuana

Contact: USC News at (213) 740-2215 or

LOS ANGELES — June 1, 2010 — A plurality of registered voters in the state of California support a measure on the November ballot to legalize marijuana, but analysts say the bill may not haveenough support to pass.

In the latest USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll, 49 percent of registered voters said they support the measure, which would allow people aged 21 and over to possess, cultivate and transport marijuana for personal use, and also allow local governments to regulate and tax marijuana consumption. Forty-one percent of registered voters oppose the measure.

Despite the single-digit margin in favor of legalizing marijuana, analysts say propositions without initial support of 50 to 60 percent rarely pass at the ballot box.

“The good news for supporters is that they begin the game with a lead in the polls. The good news for opponents is that ballot initiatives rarely gain support as a campaign progresses, so the fact that this measure starts out even slightly below fifty percent signals a significant challenge for its proponents,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC

A majority of California registered voters aged 18 to 49 support legalizing marijuana (54 percent), compared to 43 percent of registered voters over the age of 50.

Registered voters in California are split as to whether legalizing marijuana usage would worsen social problems, including increased crime and marijuana use among teenagers. Forty-six percent agreed that legalizing marijuana would worsen social problems and 48 percent disagreed.

Among registered voters who self-reported having ever used marijuana, a majority (51 percent) favor legalizing marijuana, compared to 24 percent opposed.

The oldest group of voters – those over the age of 64 – were the least likely (20 percent) to report having used marijuana. The youngest group of voters – those aged 18 to 29 – were the second least likely, with 34 percent reporting having ever tried marijuana. In contrast, Californian registered voters aged 50 to 64 were the most likely to say they had tried marijuana (47 percent), according to the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll.

For Media: Results of the USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll are available at the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Web site.

About the USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll: The USC College/Los Angeles Times Poll project is a series of six statewide public opinion polls that began November 8, 2009, and will continue throughout California’s crucial 2010 elections for governor and U.S. Senate.

These polls are taken at regular intervals and are designed to survey California residents’ attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues to better inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.

About USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences
: USC College of Letters, Art & Sciences is the university’s primary center for research and education in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. The largest of USC’s 19 academic schools, USC College is composed of more than 30 academic departments and more than 20 Ph.D. programs, and is home to more than two dozen research centers and institutes.

About the Los Angeles Times
: The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.

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