Pubdate: Fri, 24 Jan 2014
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2014 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Jim Thompson


The headline from a recent survey of Georgia voters by North 
Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, as two of this state's chapters 
of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have 
hastened to point out, is that "62 percent of Georgia voters endorse 
eliminating criminal penalties for possession by adults of less than 
an ounce of pot, and replace it with a $100 civil fine."

That headline, though, is not necessarily the most interesting 
take-away from the Jan. 6-7 PPP survey - politically speaking, at 
least. Before we go any further, though, let me acknowledge that, 
yes, Public Policy Polling is a liberal-leaning pollster, and that, 
yes, the survey we're talking about was commissioned by Georgia NORML 
and Peachtree NORML. Both of those factors might be properly 
understood to shade the published outcomes of the survey.

With that in mind, let's proceed. For the PPP survey, 37 percent of 
respondents identified themselves as Democrats, and 43 percent 
identified themselves as Republicans, with the remaining 20 percent 
calling themselves independent or other affiliation. Fifty-three 
percent of respondents were women. Sixty-five percent were white, 27 
percent were African American, 3 percent were Hispanic and 5 percent 
were of other ethnicities. Two-thirds of respondents were 46 years of 
age or older, with the remaining third between 18 and 45 years old.

Politically speaking, the survey presents an interesting, if not 
particularly overwhelming, disconnect - among both Republicans and 
Democrats - between what voters say they want and how they would vote 
in relation to those desires. For example, while 49 percent of 
surveyed Democrats said they'd strongly support changing Georgia law 
to allow the regulated legal sale and use of marijuana for people 
over age 21 - as is now the case in the states of Colorado and 
Washington - just 38 percent of those Democrats said they'd be more 
likely to support a pro-reform candidate. The difference is more 
striking among Republican survey respondents, where 37 percent said 
they'd strongly support legal sale and use of marijuana for adults, 
but just 23 percent said they'd be more likely to support a 
pro-reform candidate.

The disconnect is even wider on the question of whether possession of 
an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use should be reduced from 
a misdemeanor, with a penalty of a year in jail and a fine of up to 
$1,000, to a civil offense with a fine of $100 and no possibility of 
jail time. Fifty-five percent of Democrats, and 43 percent of 
Republicans support that change in state law, but, again, only 38 
percent of Democrats and 23 percent of Republicans say that a 
pro-reform candidate would be more likely to get their support.

What all this may mean is that a number of both Republicans and 
Democrats who say they support liberalizing the state's marijuana 
laws wouldn't translate that view into action that would, in fact, 
liberalize those laws.

Other interesting aspects of the PPP poll include the fact that men 
are far more likely than women - 48 percent, as compared to 36 
percent - to strongly support changing Georgia law to resemble 
current law in Colorado and Washington.

Also, Republicans are almost evenly divided on making Georgia law 
like the law in Colorado and Washington, with 37 percent strongly 
supporting such a move, and 11 percent somewhat supporting it, while 
38 percent strongly oppose the change and 12 percent somewhat 
strongly oppose it. What this may suggest - and, yes, it's a thin 
reed from which to draw any broad conclusions - is that 
libertarian-minded conservatives and social-issue conservatives are 
in something of a relative balance in the state.

If you'd like to see the full poll, it's available at Just click on "Poll Results" in the upper 
right-hand corner of the page. But before you do, how about tossing 
that big bag of Doritos this way?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom