Press Release  | 02/27/2013

New Poll Shows New Mexico's Growing Momentum for Marijuana Policy Reform

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52 percent of New Mexico Voters Support Taxing and Regulating Marijuana

57 percent are in Favor of Reducing the Penalties and Eliminating Jail Time for Possessing Small Amounts of Marijuana

SANTA FE – Yesterday, the Drug Policy Alliance released new polling data about New Mexican’s attitudes and opinions on marijuana.  The new data reflects that a majority of New Mexico voters are in favor of reforming our current marijuana laws. The poll was conducted by Research & Polling, Inc. in February, 2013.

“The dramatic shifts we’ve seen on the national level regarding marijuana penalty reduction are also reflected in our state. The money spent arresting, incarcerating, and prosecuting adults for simple marijuana possession could be better spent elsewhere,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, state director for the Drug Policy Alliance.  “Whether by the hand of lawmakers or a fed-up electorate, these laws are going to change in New Mexico.”

Released on the heels of Washington and Colorado voters making history by permitting the legal regulation of marijuana sales, the new state poll conducted by Research and Polling found:

  • The majority of voters in New Mexico (57 percent) favor reducing the penalty for adult possession of marijuana for personal use from a misdemeanor crime to a civil penalty with small fines and no jail time, including 50% of independents.  In fact, the plurality of voters(41 percent) say they strongly favor reducing penalties for adult possession of marijuana for personal use.
  • A majority of voters (52 percent) also say they support legalizing marijuana for adults, so that it could be taxed and regulated in away similar to alcohol, with restrictions on minors and where it can be purchased, including 50 percent of independents and 60 percent of parents with children under the age of 18.  Only 40 percent are opposed.
  • Close to 40 percent of voters say their senator or representative’s position on the issue would not make a difference in how they vote with 31 percent of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for their legislator if they supported reducing penalties or taxing and regulating marijuana.
  • As observed on the national level, voters under the age of 65 are much more likely to favor reforming the laws than are seniors.  For instance, in this poll, 61 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 64 favor reducing the penalties for possession compared to just 40 percent of seniors.
  • Democrats and independent voters tend to be more supportive of reform than are Republican voters. Interestingly, many voters who identify themselves as being conservative (as opposed being strongly conservative) say they are supportive of reform.  In fact, 47 percent of self-identified conservatives say they support reducing penalties compared to the 48 percent who are opposed.  Furthermore, 45 percent of conservative voters also say they favor legalization.

The polls sample size was 514 statewide New Mexico voters with a maximum margin of error of approximately 4.4 percent.

In recent years, American attitudes have shifted dramatically on marijuana-related issues: For the first time, support for marijuana legalization topped 50 percent nationwide last year, according to Gallup, and a recent Mason-Dixon poll found that 67 percent of Republicans believe that the federal government should let states enforce their own medical marijuana laws, rather than prosecute people complying with state law. There is also growing momentum to reduce penalties for small amounts of marijuana, with California reducing penalties in 2010, Connecticut in 2011 and Rhode Island earlier this year. In the most recent November elections, both Colorado and Washington approved initiatives to legalize and regulate the recreational use and commercial production of marijuana.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

Contact: Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

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