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Marijuana measure faces tough road

A plurality of registered voters in California support a measure on the November ballot to legalize marijuana, but analysts say the bill may not have enough support to pass.

In the latest USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/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 said 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 50 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.

Follow all election news coverage at Election 2012, a resource for journalists and others interested in politics created by USC Media Relations.

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Marijuana measure faces tough road

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