Results of a new poll indicate that one of the two medical marijuana measures facing Arkansas voters this coming election has a much stronger chance of passing.
Arkansas voters will be faced with two separate medical marijuana measures this November, and a new poll indicates that one is a clear favorite. According to a recent Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Survey, 49 percent of voters support the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, while only 36 percent of voters support its rival, the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.
The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, supported by Arkansans United for Medical Marijuana, would legalize medical marijuana for 17 qualifying conditions, create a Medical Marijuana Commission and allocate tax revenue to workforce training and technique and vocational schools. While almost half of voters support the measure, 43 percent oppose it and 8 percent are unsure.
The Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act would legalize medical marijuana for 56 qualifying conditions, with tax revenue allocated to low-income patients. The Arkansas Department of Health would be in charge of implementing and regulating the program. According to the poll, 53 percent of voters said they oppose the initiative and 11 percent are undecided.
Cannabis advocates were worried that Arkansas voters would be confused when presented with two measures, but Jay Barth, the political science professor at Hendrix College that crafted and analyzed the survey, says that the poll’s results “show that Arkansas voters are conscious of the differences between” the two. While most Arkansans either support or oppose both measures, a quarter of voters that say they support the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment (8 percent) also say they plan to oppose the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act.
“Arkansas voters do appear to distinguish between the two medical marijuana proposals, according to our survey,” said TB&P’s Editor-in-Chief and host Roby Brock. “With legal challenges remaining, high-profile opposition, and the possibility of national groups spending money in support of the issue, these proposals may be the most contested on the November ballot.”
The poll’s results also indicate stronger support for medical marijuana legalization among younger, Democratic voters.
“Demographically, age is a key force in shaping levels of support for both measures with support highest among younger voters and lowest among those over 65,” Barth wrote. “African-Americans and Democrats are also solidly behind the amendment (64% and 66%, respectively) and also show higher rates of support for the initiated act (with 56% and 49% support).”
If both measures receive majority approval, the one that receives the most “yes” votes will supersede the other. The poll’s results indicate, however, that the amendment has a much stronger chance of passing.
Arkansas almost became the first Southern state to legalize medical marijuana in 2012 when lawmakers proposed the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act, but voters narrowly defeated it, with 48 percent of voters in favor.
Earlier this summer, a separate Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll found that 58 percent of voters were in favor of legalizing medical marijuana for patients suffering from “serious debilitating medical conditions.” The most recent survey suggests that support has become a bit unsteady over the last few months.
“It appears that another close call awaits… four years after Arkansans’ last consideration of the issue,” added Barth.
The poll was conducted among 831 likely voters between September 15 and 17.