LAS VEGAS — A poll of likely Nevada voters shows most have made up their minds on two controversial state ballot initiatives, with large margins opposing a measure to legalize marijuana and supporting a ban on gay marriage.
Only 4 percent of 625 people responding to the statewide poll for the Las Vegas Review-Journal said they had not yet made up their minds on Question 9 or Question 2 on next week’s ballot.
The poll found 60 percent against Question 9, which would legalize possession of up to 3 ounces of marijuana by adults, while 36 percent said they favored the initiative and 4 percent said they were undecided.
Sixty percent said they support Question 2, which would make the existing statutory definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman part of the Nevada Constitution. Thirty-six percent said they were opposed and 4 percent were undecided.
The telephone poll was conducted for the Review-Journal and reviewjournal.com by Washington, D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc. The sampling error margin was 4 percentage points.
The survey, taken two weeks before the election and reported by the Review-Journal on Monday, found support for the marijuana initiative continuing to erode since polls taken in July and August.
The question of whether Nevada should decriminalize marijuana has captured national attention, and brought federal drug czar John Walters to the state twice to rally opposition.
In August, 55 percent of likely voters said they opposed Question 9, while 40 percent said they backed the measure, and 5 percent were undecided. That poll also had a sampling error margin of 4 percentage points.
In July, 44 percent said they favored decriminalizing pot, while 46 percent were opposed.
“As people figured out what it was all about, support started going down,” said Brad Coker, Mason-Dixon managing director. “People don’t want legal pot.”
The initiative 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 in the state who now can grow marijuana plants for medical reasons.
To change the state constitution, the initiative must be approved on Nov. 5 and again in 2004.
Billy Rogers, director of Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, the group that collected signatures to get the initiative on the ballot, said his own surveys and other polls put the question much closer.
“I am not saying we are ahead,” Rogers said, “but we are only slightly behind.”
Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement is an offshoot of the Marijuana Policy Project of Washington, D.C., which has funneled about $1.6 million into the campaign to legalize marijuana in Nevada.
Sandy Heverly, executive director of Stop DUI in Nevada and a leading opponent of the marijuana initiative, called the new poll good news.
“We have been pounding the pavement,” Heverly said. “It is all very encouraging.”
Women oppose Question 9 at a much higher rate than men, according to the survey.