Prohibitionist-Funded Poll Backfires

By David Jenison on March 17, 2018

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a Virginia-based prohibitionist group started in 2013, paid Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy to conduct a poll on cannabis, and the findings reinforced just how out-of-touch the organization actually is.

When participants were asked how they felt about the federal prohibition, only 16 percent were satisfied with current legislation. Conversely, 29 percent supported legalizing medical cannabis (MMJ), and 49 percent wanted full legalization. An outlying five percent simply preferred decriminalization. SAM, of course, framed these statistics to serve an anti-cannabis agenda, saying that, "Support for non-legalization measures like decriminalization edges out support for full marijuana legalization."

Apparently SAM thinks five > forty-nine.

As one might expect, the South had the strongest stance against cannabis, but even Dixie preferred full legalization over prohibition by a 39-to-24 margin. Republicans, the political party long-associated with cannabis aversion, likewise preferred full (36 percent) or MMJ legalization (36 percent) over the status quo (26 percent). One might even argue the national percentages are skewed toward prohibition since nearly 20 percent of those polled described themselves as "very conservative" compared to eight-percent who were "very liberal."

The Pacific Coast—where residents have firsthand experience with full statewide legalization—had the highest rate of support for legal cannabis at 63 percent, compared to nine percent in favor of prohibition.

SAM mascot Kevin Sabet is infamous for reportedly lying to a forum at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, holding up two bags of candy and claiming one was infused with cannabis. The Indiana native intended to show how similar the two bags looked, but an audience member stole both bags and lab-tested them for THC content—and neither had any trance of cannabis. So naturally, the Reefer Sanity author (yes, the book title is real) knows how to get creative in ways that don't represent reality. Case in point, the poll's awkwardly phrased second question: Would you support or oppose enforcement of federal marijuana laws if [they]did not involve penalties for possession and use of small amounts of marijuana?

The response: 50 percent supported decriminalization; 42 percent opposed it.

Decriminalization polled one-point higher in the second question than full legalization did in the first, which led to a disingenuous quote from Brad Coker of the conservative-leaning Mason-Dixon. The man with the name straight outta Narcos argued, "The country is almost evenly split on legalization. When people are given the choices of decriminalization, keeping marijuana illegal, or medical marijuana, cumulatively they slightly prefer these alternatives over legalization."

This statement is categorically false. Only the first question offered all these options, and when given the choice between full legalization, MMJ legalization, decriminalization and prohibition, the poll found that decriminalization came in dead last with only five-percent support. That's one-tenth the support that full legalization received.

Other polls conducted in the last nine months by Quinnipiac University, CBS News and the Pew Research Center all registered 61-percent support for full legalization, while Gallup saw support reach 64 percent. Even the SAM poll showed the highest level of support for legalization, which is obviously not the finding it wanted, but that didn't stop Sadet from describing his shit sandwich as "delicioso!"

"These results clearly indicate the oft-touted vast public support for marijuana legalization has a shakier foundation than marijuana investors would have you believe," said Sadet. "This should give pause to politicians and marijuana financiers alike."

Actually, what should give people pause is Sadet calling his group Smart.

Photo credit: Flickr/VaporVanity.

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