PHOENIX — A new statewide poll suggests that Arizonans are becoming more comfortable with the idea of letting all adults smoke marijuana, not just those with medical reasons.
The telephone survey of 600 people likely to vote in next year’s general election found that 52 percent of them support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, with 41 percent opposed.
Pollster Mike Noble said a similar survey he conducted in September 2016 found that foes of legalization outnumbered supporters, 47 percent to 43 percent.
That shift is important because a 2016 measure to legalize marijuana failed by about 67,000 votes out of more than 2.5 million ballots cast. A change in attitudes could portend well for any 2020 ballot measure.
Noah Rudnick, a senior data analyst at OH Predictive Insights, which conducted the survey, said there is still “persistent skepticism” among older voters about legalizing the drug, with 48 percent of seniors 65 and older opposed.
But there is no unified front among seniors, with party affiliation being a key consideration.
For example, 68 percent of Democrats 55 and older said they support legalization. That drops to 44 percent of independents and 31 percent of Republicans in that age group.
That pattern repeats when analyzed other ways.
Among those who say they support giving Republican Martha McSally another two years in the Senate, opposition to legalization runs 58 percent against 33 percent in favor. But those who say they would vote for Democrat challenger Mark Kelly are big supporters of legalization, 73 percent to 21 percent.
A 2010 voter-approved measure allows those with certain medical conditions to obtain up to 2½ ounces of marijuana every two weeks. But efforts to expand that have failed.
There is, however, some sentiment even among lawmakers to decriminalize the drug, with simple possession remaining a felony in Arizona.
Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, proposed making possession of up to an ounce a civil penalty carrying a $50 fine. And Rep. Kevin Payne, R-Peoria, had his own measure to allow people to have up to 2½ ounces and be guilty of a petty offense with a fine of no more than $150. None of these bills got hearings.
The survey was conducted last month using calls to both landlines and cellphones and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.