California, which legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes 20 years ago, is days away from legalizing the plant for recreational use, according to two new surveys.
Fifty-seven percent of likely voters support Proposition 64 ― a measure to legalize the possession, cultivation, use and sale of marijuana for adults 21 and over ― suggests a survey released Friday by Field Poll and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. That’s similar to the 58 percent support that the University of Southern California’s Dornslife College and the Los Angeles Times found in a poll released earlier this week.
The Golden State is a huge prize for the marijuana legalization movement, because its 40 million residents make it the most populous state in the nation and it has the sixth-largest economy in the world. Pot policy reformers say it would advance their cause considerably if the state adopted legal weed.
California became the first state to establish a medical marijuana program in 1996; since then, about two dozen states have followed suit. In 2010, it had the opportunity to make history again by becoming the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, but voters ultimately rejected that ballot measure. Two years later, Colorado led the way instead, becoming the first state in the U.S. and the first government in the world to establish a regulated marijuana marketplace.
Four states, along with Washington, D.C., have now legalized recreational marijuana (although D.C. continues to ban sales, unlike the state programs).
“In addition to California’s population size and enormous economic and cultural significance, legalizing marijuana there will be hugely politically impactful,” Tom Angell, chairman of drug reform advocacy group Marijuana Majority, told The Huffington Post.