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New Poll: Slim Majority of Californians Think Taxing Cannabis May Be Solution to State's Woes

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The primaries last night are a reminder of how close we are to the mid-term elections in November. And as a wave of anti-establishment fervor is knocking old-timers out -- see ya never, Arlen! -- one wonders whether voters will also be looking for innovative ways to solve old problems.

Tax Cannabis, the largest-ever state-wide initiative to tax and regulate marijuana much the same way tobacco and alcohol are, is on the California ballot this year. As the state faces a burgeoning budget crisis -- a $19 to $22 billion deficit, depending on whom you ask -- the possibility of legalizing cannabis, (unofficially) the state's largest cash crop, ought to seem pretty interesting to many who may not have considered it otherwise.

A just-released internal campaign poll brings some promising figures:

  • 76% say marijuana is already being used in the state and ought be regulated
  • 61% say it's easier for teens to get marijuana than alcohol (the initiative would make cannabis legal for all 21+, like booze)
  • 74% say marijuana ought be regulated like tobacco and alcohol
  • 69% say the initiative will bring the state needed revenue ( 60% say it will save the state money)
  • 57% say it will put police priorities where they belong

Already, two out of three voters say they've heard about the initiative which speaks to how well-publicized the measure is. And younger, newer, and independent voters -- usually known as demographics less likely to vote, particularly during mid-term elections -- say they will be more likely to head to the polls in November because of Tax Cannabis.

Interestingly -- and unfortunately -- despite the high numbers of people who think Tax Cannabis could bring great benefits, both budgetary and safety-related, the number of those who support the measure in and of itself is not as high.

Indeed, they are very slim majorities: 51% support the initiative when only hearing the title ("The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010") and 52% support the initiative when they read the Attorney General's summary of it. These are important numbers because the title and summary are the only things voters will read about Tax Cannabis when they are at the polls.

The campaign's get-out-the-vote push starts this summer -- and can make all the difference.

Read my prior coverage of Tax Cannabis (in chronological order):Huge Signature Gathering Success Sends Pot Legalization to BallotThe Best Chance Yet For Legalizing MarijuanaTax Cannabis Initiative Submits Signatures to Election OfficialsMarijuana Legalization Officially Qualifies for BallotPoll Shows Support for Pot Legalization Continues to RiseNew Poll: 56% of California Voters Want to Legalize Marijuana