Poll: Voters support medical marijuana law

January 08, 2006

Jeff MacDonald, San Diego Union Tribune

Two out of three San Diego County voters support the state law allowing sick and dying patients to use marijuana, according to a poll scheduled to be released today. An even wider majority said county supervisors should not spend public money trying to overturn the law.

A Washington, D.C., advocacy group called the Marijuana Policy Project commissioned the poll after the San Diego County Board of Supervisors refused late last year to implement the state medical marijuana law.

County supervisors plan to sue the state later this month to try to overturn the law. California voters approved the law in 1996, but it has been held up in courts for years because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The telephone poll was conducted Jan. 3 and 4 by the opinion research firm Evans/McDonough Co. It asked 500 registered voters – 100 in each supervisorial district – to answer a series of questions regarding medical marijuana and other issues. The poll had a margin of error of 4.38 percent.

County Supervisor Dianne Jacob dismissed the survey as politically motivated.

According to the survey, 67 percent of San Diego County voters said they support Proposition 215, the landmark initiative approved by voters a decade ago. More decisively, the pending lawsuit "is wasting taxpayers' money," 80 percent of respondents said.

"Every city, county, state and national poll conducted in the U.S. over the last 25 years has shown that a clear majority of voters support legal medical marijuana, and San Diego County is no exception," Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement.

"The supervisors pursue this suit at their own peril."

Despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that upheld the federal government's authority to prosecute marijuana users, California law requires counties to issue identification to registered medical marijuana patients.

A majority of San Diego County supervisors – Pam Slater-Price, Bill Horn and Jacob – voted last month to reject that mandate. Instead, they announced they would seek to overturn the state's medical marijuana law in court.

Jacob questioned the survey's results.

"This is a poll bought and paid for by a special-interest group with a clear-cut agenda," Jacob said. "The results aren't credible. More importantly, the county's legal challenge isn't about popular opinion. It's about resolving a clash of state and federal laws."

Slater-Price and Horn did not return telephone calls Friday regarding the survey results.

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