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WBUR Poll: Support Increases For Legalizing Marijuana In Mass.03:59

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A new WBUR poll (topline, crosstabs) finds support for the legalization of marijuana is up among likely Massachusetts voters.

Fifty-five percent of likely voters now say they favor allowing adults to use recreational marijuana, which is the subject of Question 4 on the November ballot.

When WBUR last polled on legalizing marijuana, last month, the gap was narrower, with 50 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. That 5-point gap has now grown to 15 points, with 55 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.

"This one follows a long string of polls which shows the marijuana question with the 'yes' side leading by somewhere between the mid-single digits and the mid-double digits," said Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the survey for WBUR.

James Carroll, of Hopkinton, is among those who favor legalizing marijuana.

"People should have a choice in what they do and don't do," he said. "Liquor's legal. It didn't use to be legal."

Koczela says there's particularly broad support for letting people use marijuana at home.

"We found that almost everybody would be OK with the idea of people using marijuana in their homes — 84 percent said no, that that would not bother them," Koczela said. "When you ask, though, about using marijuana in public, only a third said that that would be OK with them."

And 64 percent say it would bother them.

"I do have a concern about people taking it and then driving," said Carol Yankauskas, of Falmouth.

Most oppose advertising for marijuana in their community. Fifty-one percent of likely voters say it would bother them if marijuana businesses advertised in public places in their community.

Susan Brownstein, of Westhampton, on the other hand, said it's fine.

"We advertise alcohol," she pointed out. "We don't want our children to drink. We advertise Cialis, for goodness's sake, during prime-time, when little kids are watching television. This is way more benign."

There is, however, support for stores selling marijuana. Fifty-nine percent of respondents say it would not bother them if a store selling recreational marijuana opened in their community.

Nearly half the respondents (49 percent) say they have tried marijuana. Of those who have tried it, an overwhelming majority, 72 percent, support legalization.

More Opposed To Expanding Charter Schools

The WBUR poll also asked likely voters about the ballot measure to expand charter schools. Here, it's the opposition gaining ground.

Last month, 48 percent of likely voters said they would vote "no" on the measure to allow up to 12 new charter schools each year statewide. Now, 52 percent oppose the measure. Support for charters, meantime, has stayed steady at 41 percent.

The poll finds whites and nonwhites have different views on charter schools.

"One of the things I've seen a lot in polling on charter schools is that nonwhite voters tend to be more supportive than white voters," said Koczela, who has worked for pro-charter groups in the past.

Only 40 percent of whites support expanding the number of charter schools, while 53 percent of nonwhites do. State data show 66 percent of students enrolled in charter schools are nonwhite.

The poll also found a split along party lines. About two-thirds of Democrats oppose the charter measure, while nearly the same fraction of Republicans are in favor.

The Other 2 Ballot Questions

Opposition to the ballot measure to allow a slots parlor near Suffolk Downs is increasing, as 58 percent of likely voters now say they oppose the measure, up from 52 percent in September.

And the poll found little change regarding the ballot measure to prohibit the sale of eggs or meat from animals that are confined in pens and cannot move around. Two-thirds of likely voters support banning the practice.

This story aired on October 19, 2016.

Related:

Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reports on politics and higher education for WBUR.

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