Saturday, 2:15 PM
Mass. voters lean towards marijuana decriminalization
By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff
A proposal to decriminalize the possession of marijuana has the support of about half of Massachusetts voters as the election nears, according to a new poll.
Fifty-one percent of registered voters supported Question 2 on the ballot, while 32 percent opposed it, and 16 percent were undecided, in a Suffolk University/WHDH-TV (Channel 7) News poll taken earlier this week.
The poll also found strong opposition to Question 1, a proposal to repeal the state income tax, and a nearly equal split among voters on Question 3, a proposal to ban dog racing in the state.
Law enforcement officials have mobilized to oppose the marijuana decriminalization proposal, making significant progress in swaying people to their side, said David Paleologos, director of the Political Research Center at Suffolk University.
In an August poll, 72 percent of those surveyed had supported decriminalization.
"The 'no' side has gained momentum over the past two months," said Paleologos. "The issue is whether the brass and blue will be able to move enough additional voters to their side in 12 days."
The proposal would replace the criminal penalties for possessing one ounce of marijuana or less with a civil fine of $100.
Question 1 was opposed by 59 percent of those surveyed, while 26 percent supported it, with 14 percent undecided. Paleologos said recent advertising buys by the opposition, which argues that the repeal would force drastic cuts in state services, have had a significant impact on people's views.
Question 3 was supported by 44 percent and opposed by 43 percent, with 13 percent undecided.
"This question will literally come right down to the wire," Paleologos said in a statement.
The poll also found that Democrat Barack Obama had a strong lead over Republican John McCain in the presidential race, with 53 percent supporting Obama, 34 percent supporting McCain, 3 percent supporting Ralph Nader, and 7 percent undecided.
The statewide poll of 400 registered voters, conducted Monday through Wednesday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.