SALEM, OR — With less than six months until election day, Oregon voters are on the verge of legalizing recreational marijuana, according to polling data released this week.
As many as three separate initiatives could appear on the November ballot asking voters to legalize marijuana.
The SurveyUSA poll released Tuesday did not ask voters which of the three likely measures they would prefer, but instead asked respondents whether they support or oppose allowing adults in Oregon to use, possess and grown marijuana for their personal use, while allowing the state to regulate and tax marijuana.
51% of those polled support making the personal use of marijuana legal, with only 41% in opposition. There is no regional difference on this question, but there is an enormous age difference: younger voters back the decriminalization of marijuana by 48 points, while seniors opposed marijuana legalization by 24 points.
There was a clear decisive line among political parties as well, with Democrats more likely to support legalization, and Republicans more likely to oppose.
While none of the three initiatives have yet to qualify for the ballot, supporters of all three initiatives are optimistic that they will turn in more signatures than needed before the July 3rd submission deadline.
Of the three initiatives, New Approach Oregon’s initiative would legalize the personal possession of up to eight ounces and allow for the cultivation of four plants. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would oversee and regulate the marijuana industry, with a marijuana tax set at $35 an ounce.
The initiative has significant financial support, with notable contributions of $64,000 from the late Progressive Insurance founder Peter Lewis shortly before his death last year, $50,000 from Drug Policy Action, the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, and $100,000 from fragrance heir Van Ameringen.
A second drive led by medical marijuana entrepreneur Paul Stanford began gathering signatures in September for both a proposed ballot initiative, the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA), and a proposed constitutional amendment, the Oregon Cannabis Amendment (OCA), on the November ballot.
The Oregon Cannabis Tax Act would create a commission to regulate marijuana cultivation, processing, and sales, while the Oregon Cannabis Amendment would amend the state constitution to remove both criminal and civil sanctions for “the private personal use, possession or production of cannabis.”
Stanford was the driving force behind 2012′s Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, which nearly passed, receiving 47% of the vote despite lack of any major financial funding.
Had 2012′s measure passed, Oregon would have joined Colorado and Washington as the first states to legalize recreational marijuana.
Voters in Alaska will also be considering marijuana legalization in November.