Washington Initiative 502 Poll: 53 Percent Support Marijuana Legalization

A new poll conducted by PPP shows a majority of voters support a ballot measure in Washington state that would legalize marijuana. 

The poll indicates that 53% of respondents say they support the measure, dubbed Initiative I-502, while 44% are opposed.

In the "Yes" column, the poll shows (perhaps not surprisingly) a decrease from 79% at the “Very Liberal” end of the spectrum, down to 23% at the “Very Conservative” wing.

The poll comes at a time when I-502 is set to be voted on Nov. 6. The initiative would “take marijuana out of the hands of illegal drug organizations and bring it under a tightly regulated, state-licensed system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol." The measure aims to allow law enforcement to re-focus on violent and property crimes and to generate new state and local tax revenue for education, health care, research, and substance abuse prevention.

Similar proposals are on the ballot in Colorado and Oregon, though polls show tighter races in Washington and Colorado.

A recent study, “If Our Neighbors Legalize,” from a Mexican think tank called the Mexican Competitiveness Institute, maintains that legalization in individual states in the U.S. could “cut Mexican drug cartel earnings from traffic to the U.S. by as much as 30%.” The study doesn’t take into account what would happen if more than one state legalized.

Opponents like the Mexican government have said that an initiative that legalizes marijuana could make it more difficult to go after growers and dealers in Mexico because criminals could claim the product was intended for a legal destination.

In an AP report, Thomas Gorman, head of the anti-drug government agency called the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area pointed out: "If I were a cartel member and I knew Colorado and Washington had it legal, I'd get a couple front people and do my business out of those states. Why would I not?"

So, is the ballot initiative a pragmatic attempt at increasing revenue as well as improving the quality of life in Washington? Or just another way for drug dealers to game the system and continue to push their product into the U.S.?