Pubdate: Mon, 28 Oct 2002
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
Copyright: 2002 Las Vegas Review-Journal
Authors: Sean Whaley, and Ed Vogel
Cited: Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement ( )
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project ( )
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Nevadans for Responsible Law 
Bookmark: (Question 9 (NV))


CARSON CITY -- A poll of likely Nevada voters shows they have made up their 
minds on two controversial state ballot measures, with support for a ban on 
gay marriage holding at a solid 60 percent, but support for a measure to 
legalize marijuana failing by an equal percentage.

Only 4 percent of the 625 people responding to the statewide telephone poll 
taken Monday through Wednesday indicated that they had not made up their 
minds on either Question 2 or Question 9.

Question 2, which would place Nevada's existing definition of marriage as 
being between a man and a woman in the state constitution, had 60 percent 
of those polled in support, 36 percent opposed and 4 percent undecided.

Question 9, which would legalize possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana, 
had 36 percent of those polled in support, 60 percent against and 4 percent 

The poll, conducted for the Review-Journal and by the 
Washington, D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc., has a margin 
of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The latest poll results for Question 9 reflect growing opposition to a 
proposal which has captured national attention and prompted federal drug 
czar John Walters to make two trips to Nevada to rally opposition.

During the first Review-Journal poll in July, 46 percent of the respondents 
said they opposed Question 9, while 44 percent supported it. Then an August 
poll showed opposition had increased to 55 percent of the voters, with 40 
percent in support.

"Support is going down," said Brad Coker, managing director of the polling 
firm. "As people figured out what it was all about, support started going 
down. People don't want legal pot."

Billy Rogers, director of Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, said 
the results are not in line with his own surveys and other polls he has 
seen. He said the consensus is that Question 9 now would lose by between 2 
and 6 percentage points if the election were held today.

"The poll is just not accurate," Rogers said. "I am not saying we are 
ahead, but we are only slightly behind. The poll doesn't make any sense at 

Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement is an offshoot of the Marijuana 
Policy Project of Washington, D.C. The parent organization has funneled 
about $1.6 million into the drive to legalize marijuana in Nevada.

It spent $385,000 to collect 110,000 signatures on petitions to put 
Question 9 on the Nevada ballot.

To change the state constitution, Question 9 must be approved on Nov. 5 and 
again in 2004. The initiative not only calls for legal marijuana for 
adults, but would compel the state to set up a system to cultivate, sell, 
tax and distribute marijuana. Low-cost marijuana also would be made 
available for the 200 people who now can grow marijuana plants for medical 

Sandy Heverly, executive director of Stop DUI, was thrilled by the results. 
She is a member of Nevadans Against Legalizing Marijuana, a coalition of 
organizations that oppose Question 9.

"This is the best news I have heard since this campaign started," Heverly 
said. "We have been pounding the pavement. It is all very encouraging."

Heverly fears if marijuana were legalized, more children would acquire the 
drug and more people would drive on highways while under the drug's influence.

She added that Nevadans are compassionate and approved the ballot question 
two years ago that allowed people with the permission of their doctors to 
grow marijuana for medical reasons.

Women oppose Question 9 at a much higher rate than men, according to the 
survey. Only 31 percent of women back legal marijuana, while 63 percent 
oppose it. Among men, 41 percent support Question 9, and 57 percent oppose it.

This is the second time Question 2 will appear on the ballot, and it will 
become part of the constitution if voters support it in the general 
election. It passed in 2000 with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Richard Schlegel, executive director of Equal Rights Nevada, a group 
opposed to the question, said he is pleased by the increasing level of 
opposition. Question 2 is unnecessary and divisive, he said.

"We've made some progress with the voters," Schlegel said. "The results are 

The group is set to start a radio campaign this week in both Las Vegas and 
Reno to educate voters on why they should vote against the proposal, he 
said. A private firm has also been retained to contact voters by telephone 
to explain the group's position, Schlegel said.

Richard Ziser, chairman of the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage in 
Nevada, which gathered the signatures to place the measure on the ballot 
two years ago, said the poll results are similar to those in polls the 
group conducted.

"In our last poll, we were maybe 1 or 2 points higher," he said. "But we're 
holding our own. We're about where we were two years ago at the same time."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom