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Majority oppose marijuana legalization, new poll finds

April 20, 2010 |  7:19 am

With California voters set to consider the controversial question this fall, a new poll shows most Americans oppose legalizing marijuana.

According to the Associated Press-CNBC poll, 33% of respondents favored legalization while 55% oppose it. Young people were more likely to support legalization, while older people were more likely to oppose it. Women and Republicans also strongly opposed legalization.

California voters in November will consider the issue of pot legalization, which is likely to be a highly watched campaign.

Proponents will cite the financial and social cost of enforcing pot prohibition and argue that marijuana is not as dangerous and addictive as tobacco or alcohol. Opponents will highlight marijuana-linked crimes, rising teenage use and the harm that weed causes some smokers.

The 10-page California initiative would allow anyone 21 or older to possess, share and transport up to an ounce for personal use and to grow up to 25 square feet per residence or parcel. It would allow local governments, but not the state, to authorize the cultivation, transportation and sale of marijuana and to impose taxes to raise revenues.

California is not alone in weighing legalization. Several state legislatures have considered bills and two other Western states may vote on initiatives. In Nevada, a measure aimed for 2012 would allow state-licensed pot stores. And a campaign in Washington hopes to put a legalization measure on the fall ballot.

The CNBC-AP poll found most respondents believe pot had medical benefits and should be legal for health purposes.

According to the AP, the poll conducted April 7-12 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media involved telephone interviews with 1,001 adults nationwide. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

-- Shelby Grad