Cannabis: Most polled prefer regulation to repeal

2011-03-20T00:00:00Z Cannabis: Most polled prefer regulation to repealBy CHARLES S. JOHNSON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
March 20, 2011 12:00 am  • 

A slim majority of Montanans favor repealing the law legalizing medical marijuana, but in response to another question, a much larger percentage support tightening regulations on the industry rather than terminating the law, a new Lee Newspapers poll shows.

When asked whether they would support or oppose repealing the 2004 state law legalizing medical marijuana, 52 percent said they’d support repeal and 38 percent opposed it. Ten percent were undecided.

In response to another question, however, 83 percent of voters said they favor enacting stricter regulation and licensing requirements for medical marijuana in the state. Thirteen percent opposed tightening the law, while 4 percent were undecided.

Another question asked voters to choose among three options: Repealing the medical marijuana law, enacting stricter regulations or leaving the current law intact.

The poll showed 57 percent backing stricter regulations and licensing requirements, while 31 percent wanted to repeal the law and 11 percent favored keeping the current law intact. The remaining 1 percent were uncertain.

The poll also asked this question: “In 2004, Montana voters passed an initiative to legal the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Would you say the law has worked out: better than you expected, worse than you expected or about the same as you expected?”

Fifty-three percent said the law had worked out worse than expected and 35 percent said it turned out the same as they expected. Only 3 percent said it was better than they had expected, while 9 percent were undecided.

The poll was taken for Lee Newspapers March 14-16 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C. A total of 625 registered Montana voters from around the state were interviewed. All said they regularly vote in Montana elections. The poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus four percentage points.

Medical marijuana is one of the major issues facing the 2011 Legislature, which so far hasn’t agreed on a solution. A bill to repeal the law passed the House, but a Senate committee deadlocked over it this week and it remains in limbo. Meanwhile, Senate and House subcommittees are working on possible bills to impose more regulatory and licensing restrictions.

Industry supporters maintain that medical marijuana is assisting many people who suffer from debilitating diseases, who found relief after other prescription drugs didn’t help them.

Critics, however, contend the industry has spun out of control in Montana. The number of people obtaining cards authorizing them to use medical marijuana skyrocketed from 3,921 in September 2009 to 28,739 in February 2011.

In follow-up interviews with Lee Newspapers, some Montanans who were polled had strong feelings about this issue.

“I feel it needs to be repealed,” said Ella Schultz of Deer Lodge, a retired accountant. “I’m anxious about the children, about the people that are smoking it in their house or having it in their cookies. Marijuana is the first step. Montana is going to be a big crime place. The mob is going to come in.”

Agreeing was Jeff Bretherton, a Missoula Realtor, who said just because it was approved by voters in 2004 that it shouldn’t be changed.

“I think the law has been used as cover-up to protect some unlawful activities,” he said.

But others called for tightening up the law, not repealing it.

“It should be revised,” said Gary Stewart, a retired Great Falls resident. “It shouldn’t be repealed. I just think it’s out of control. I’ve never smelled it. I’ve never smoked it. I’m just an old guy. (But) I think there are some people that it helps.”

Peggy Cain of Missoula, a retired nurse, advocated fixing the law.

“I don’t think it’s right to repeal something that the voters of the state have put into the law,” she said. “I’m in favor of medical marijuana.”

Licensed private investigator Richard Hanson of Columbus said, “I think fix it up. I think we need it, but, boy, I think it’s being abused as is.”

Homemaker Lila Erickson of Troy said she supports leaving the law as it is, saying: “Some people use it for medical reasons, and I think it’s a good thing.”

The poll’s cross tabs revealed the split between political parties and men and women.

The strongest supporters of repealing the law were Republicans and independents, with most Democrats against the idea.  Men were more likely to favor repeal than women.

Everyone – men, women, Democrats, Republicans and independents – advocated stricter regulation and licensing requirements for medical marijuana.

When it came to choosing whether to repeal the law, tighten it up or do nothing, women and Democrats showed the strongest support for enacting stricter regulations, although a majority of men did too. A majority of Republicans favored repealing it.




Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. Motorchild
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    Motorchild - March 21, 2011 12:36 pm
    Addendum: So's not to leave the buyers 'holding the bag', a fee can be imposed on the growers and distributers as well.
  2. wildone1760
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    wildone1760 - March 21, 2011 7:44 am
    this was a lee poll. A lot of propaganda hype list below is clip of how it is "run" it is a targeted poll from registered voters.
    Mainly targeted at older voters as the interviews with some of the polled point out. The number was quite different when the poll was done here a couple of weeks ago 58% against repeal 42 % for. this is cut & paste of the whole articular
    HELENA - The Lee Newspapers poll was conducted March 14-16 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, D.C., for the Missoulian, Billings Gazette, Montana Standard of Butte, Helena Independent Record and Ravalli Republic.
    A total of 625 registered Montana voters were interviewed statewide by telephone. All said they regularly vote in state elections.
    Pollsters interviewed 320 women for 51 percent of the sample and 305 men for 49 percent.
    The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The margin of error is higher for any subgroup such as a gender sampling.
    Those interviewed were selected by random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross section of telephone exchanges was used to ensure an accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect the turnout by county.
    Here is the breakdown of the 625 telephone calls for the survey:
    Eastern Montana area, 55 interviews in these 15 counties: Carter, Powder River, Rosebud, Custer, Fallon, Prairie, Wibaux, Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Richland, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Daniels and Valley.
    Billings and southeastern Montana area, 125 interviews in these 11 counties: Yellowstone, Treasure, Big Horn, Carbon, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Wheatland, Golden Valley, Musselshell, Petroleum and Fergus.
    Great Falls and northcentral Montana area, 105 interviews in these 12 counties: Cascade, Meagher, Judith Basin, Teton, Chouteau, Phillips, Blaine, Hill, Liberty, Toole, Pondera and Glacier counties.
    Butte, Helena and Bozeman areas, 160 interviews in these 10 counties: Lewis and Clark, Powell, Broadwater, Jefferson, Silver Bow, Deer Lodge, Beaverhead, Madison, Gallatin and Park counties.
    Missoula and Kalispell areas, 180 interviews in these eight counties: Missoula, Granite, Ravalli, Mineral, Sanders, Lake, Flathead and Lincoln counties if some one has the time you could conduct you're own if you have time & a phone book!
  3. luvpups
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    luvpups - March 20, 2011 10:00 pm
    "Ella Schultz of Deer Lodge, ... Marijuana is the first step. Montana is going to be a big crime place. The mob is going to come"

    Are you serious? the mob doesnt concern themselves with legal activities. but we sure do have an awful lot of drug dealers and mexicans coming across the border to sell the drug that is illegal.
  4. alldog
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    alldog - March 20, 2011 7:45 pm
    So apparently we don't need to vote in this state if the legislature will do what it wants anyway.

    The medical marijuana program should be regulated the way alcohol and cigarettes are. If marijuana is taxed, the state would gain large amounts of revenue which could be passed on to other things. This country has been fighting a war on drugs for way too long and nothing good has been done -- marijuana is coming to this country and we are spending way too much to stop it. Legalize marijuana and the drug lords won't have anyone to sell pot to anymore and their gang warfare will stop in this country, and we can start pulling out of this deficit.
  5. Frustrated
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    Frustrated - March 20, 2011 5:41 pm
    I was not polled and know of no one that was, either.
  6. Motorchild
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    Motorchild - March 20, 2011 4:04 pm
    I say impose a controlled substance or regulation tax of at least five dollars per purchase. Times the 28,739 authorized users would bring $1,724,340 in revenue to the state annually. Users making two purchases monthly would double that amount. In light of the cost of some prescribed drugs (and their horrendous side effects), $60-120 of tax per year is a small price for the medical marijuana users to pay
  7. steeline
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    steeline - March 20, 2011 11:38 am
    The war on drugs has failed. It has cost Billions of dollars and still pot is coming into our communities by the ton. Just look at our Mexican bourder. It would be a great money saving move to totally legalize growing and using pot. Make it legal to use and grow pot for free. We would not have all the high costs of enforceing laws, putting our law enforcement people at risk. It would result in great reductions of prison populations on and on. Sure there would need to be some form of rehabilitation for excessive pot users and regulation for pot abuse use, much like we have for booze. The tax payer would enjoy Billions more in tax savings. The cost to take care of those who over indulge would be far less expensive. We have to get America Right.
  8. 4fishing
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    4fishing - March 20, 2011 9:46 am
    when was this poll taken i never took a survey if this is so accurate why did i not here about this poll
  9. abcdef
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    abcdef - March 20, 2011 9:12 am
    The law was designed to fail. Now, for the pleasure a few bigots it will be designed to persecute the marijuana user.

    The arguments are old and the facts are clear. Marijuana is safer then aspirin and the public should have free access to it. The statements about marijuana abuse are nonsense at best exaggerations. Just like Reefer Madness all over again the lying begins.

    Caregivers beware.. . Patients be wary. We are being used by clever politicians for political gain.

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