Bay Area Residents Narrowly Support Legalizing Marijuana

A California initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana that appears headed for the November 2016 ballot would have the support of a majority of Bay Area residents, according to the 2016 Bay Area Council Poll. Backers of the initiative, including tech entrepreneur Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, announced today that they had gathered double the signatures needed to qualify the initiative.

The poll of 1,000 Bay Area residents found that 50 percent support legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in California, including 26 percent that strongly support and 24 percent that somewhat support. Among the 41 percent who are opposed, 25 percent strongly oppose and 16 percent somewhat oppose. Another 10 percent answered “don’t know.” The initiative would require a simple majority to pass. A similar measure in 2010 failed with 53 percent opposed.

Support was strongest in San Francisco (56 percent) and the North Bay (54 percent). San Mateo was the only county where those opposed (46 percent) outnumbered supporters (43 percent). The ratio of support to oppose was generally consistent across the other counties, including Santa Clara (47%/43%), Alameda (49%/39%), and Contra Costa (49%/41%).

Support was pretty even among generations, including Millennials (50%/38%), GenXers (50%/40%), Baby Boomers (50%/41%), and residents 65+ (47%/47%). Although, Millennials had greatest intensity of support, with 27 percent giving strong support versus 22-23 percent for other generational groups.

The 2016 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from Feb. 12-March 9, surveyed more than 1,000 residents online about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, drought, education and workforce. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

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