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Legalized Pot Down 41% to 47% As National Anti-Group Puts In ‘6 Figures’

September 25, 2018

The self-proclaimed leading national organization against legalizing recreational marijuana is putting a “six-figure investment” in defeating Proposal 1 this fall as new polling from Target Insyght, commissioned by MIRS and Governmental Consulting Services Inc. (GCSI) show the ballot question down 41 to 47 percent.

Luke Niforatos, chief of staff for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), was in Lansing Friday to make it known that the proposal allowing adults 21 and older to keep up to 10 ounces of pot taxed at 10 percent won’t go before voters without their organization getting its say in the matter. 

Founded by former President Barack Obama official Kevin Sabet, SAM is a non-profit with a 501(3) and 501(4) with paid staff in Washington D.C. and several states to fight legislative and voter-initiated attempts to create another “big tobacco.”

The national outfit is working with Scott Greenlee and Healthy and Productive Michigan to blow the whistle on a “false narrative” that legalizing marijuana will cleanse the jails and prisons of users rotting behind bars for pot use. Niforatos said they support further decriminalization for possession of a drug that is only strongly prosecuted if possession is leveraged with another crime. 

“We’re here to support the operations of the committee for whatever needs to be done with this campaign,” Niforatos said. “We don’t have an endless supply of money. I wish we could outraise our opponents. We can’t. We are routinely outraised 20 to one, 40 to one. However, the resources we have, we want to commit to this committee. 

The information comes as a MIRS automated survey released last Tuesday from Sept. 11-14 shows legalized marijuana down after respondents were read the complete ballot language. When they are read only the title of the proposal, the gap is wider — 40 to 49 percent in opposition with 11 percent undecided. 

On a party basis, 55 percent of Democrats supported legalization, 24 percent of Republicans and 39 percent of independents supported Proposal 1. 

“Without education or promotion, these ballot proposals don’t stand by themselves,” said Ed Sarpoulos, president of Target Insyght. “Similar proposals in the past, where we used promoter words, or biased words in, they pass 50 percent. But if you read the ballot language, they don’t pass.” 

Sarpolus is quick to say the poll results on Proposal 1 shouldn’t be interpreted as suggesting they can’t pass, just that without support and education, they won’t pass based on the official ballot wording. 

The poll question wording was: 

The ballot proposal would allow individuals 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles, and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption; Impose a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences and require amounts over 2.5 ounces be secured in locked containers; Create a state licensing system for marijuana businesses and allow municipalities to ban or restrict them; Permit retail sales of marijuana and edibles subject to a 10% tax, dedicated to implementation costs, clinical trials, schools, roads, and municipalities where marijuana businesses are located; Change several current violations from crimes to civil infractions. Should this proposal be adopted? 

The title of the proposal reads: A proposed initiated law to authorize and legalize possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by individuals who are at least 21 years of age and older, and commercial sales of marijuana through state-licensed retailers. 

The six-point gap differs from a Detroit News/Glengariff Group poll that shows 56 percent support of marijuana legalization with 38 percent opposed. 

Josh Hovey of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said the MIRS survey showing Prop 1 with 41 percent support is about 20 points lower than what they are seeing in their internal polls and may be an anomaly caused by automated polling. The Coalition used live polling. 

“We, by no means, have any assumptions that this is in the bag,” Hovey said. “But we don’t think the numbers are an accurate reflection of what’s going on in Michigan and that, in the end, voters will end up supporting Proposal 1 in November.” 

As far as SAM’s commitment to Michigan, Hovey said he’s not concerned. Outside of one race in Arizona, where a big drug company injected about $1 million into a no campaign, efforts to knock down legalizing marijuana are failing across the country with or without SAM’s help, he said. 

“They’ve wasted a lot of money when they should be educating people on being smart about marijuana and making sure people are responsible,” Hovey said. “We need to stop wasting taxpayer money on arresting people and throwing them in jail. Collecting tax dollars from the regulated sale of marijuana would be a smarter approach. 

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