The final results from the latest Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll indicate strong support among Arkansas voters for medical marijuana.
The issue was on the 2012 ballot, but narrowly failed. In 2016, there may be competing medical marijuana proposals in the November general election. In the latest survey, conducted June 21, 2016 among 751 likely Arkansas voters, respondents were asked:
Q: In November, a proposal to allow the use of medical marijuana may be on the Arkansas ballot. It would provide Arkansans the ability to use medical marijuana for serious debilitating medical conditions with a doctor's recommendation by allowing patients to purchase their medicine at a regulated not-for-profit dispensary. If the election were held today, would you vote to allow for medical marijuana sales?
Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped craft and analyze the latest poll. He offered this analysis of the poll results:
Going back to the 2012 election cycle when medical marijuana first popped up on the policy agenda in Arkansas, we have polled the issue a number of times. Polling this week reiterates that Arkansans appear ready for the medical use of marijuana to become public policy in Arkansas as the survey shows a comfortable lead (58% to 34%) for such a measure.
This survey asked about the broad concept of a medical marijuana ballot measure and describes the creation of dispensaries to distribute the regulated marijuana. Support for such a ballot measure is generally strong across demographic, political, and geographic groups. Certain groups of voters are especially supportive of the measure. Democrats (74% support), African-Americans (73% support), Second Congressional District residents (65% support), and those aged 30 to 44 (73%) are all disproportionately supportive.
Still, the concept leads among all groups of Arkansas voters with only one exception: the state's Republican voters. Even with that group, the proposal is tied (45% support and 45% opposition). It is noteworthy that a chunk of voters seem concerned about making laws at the ballot box at all; our survey last September showed an even larger 84% of Arkansans agree that adults should be allowed to use physician-prescribed marijuana.
While these numbers would seem to bode well for medical marijuana advocates, the challenge is that there are two competing measures moving towards the fall ballot. Thus, the next few weeks will be crucial as petition signatures are counted for both an initiated act that includes a "grow your own" provision (up to 10 plants) for those living over 20 miles from a "cannabis care center" and a constitutional amendment that lacks that component.
Although either (or both) may not get over the hurdles (having the sufficient number of valid signatures, etc.) to get there, both achieving the ballot would likely cause problems for the concept of medical marijuana because they would not only have to compete with one another, but would also have opposition from groups like the Arkansas Family Council that have already spoken out against the broadening of access to marijuana. Moreover, national groups interested in supporting medical marijuana in Arkansas might well be stymied by having to choose between the competing measures.
This survey was conducted on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-3.6%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 751 Arkansas frequent voters statewide.
All media outlets are welcome to reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.
For interviews, contact Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Jay Barth by email at email@example.com.