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Legalize ND poll shows 51 percent favor recreational marijuana, but opponents doubt numbers

FARGO— A poll released Sunday, Oct. 21, by Legalize ND shows that 51 percent of North Dakotans support legalizing recreational marijuana with 36 percent opposed.

That's a increase of 5 percent in support from the group's last poll in May.

Thirteen percent of North Dakotans were undecided, the poll said.

However, opponents dispute the poll and announced late last week that the list of state organizations opposing the measure continues to grow.

Bob Wefald, chairman of the North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana, also referred to two other recent polls that showed opposite results.

The two other polls by a Fargo television station and another by a public relations firm in Bismarck showed more than 55 percent against the measure with only about a third to almost 40 percent of likely state voters in favor.

Aware of those polls, Cole Haymond, adviser to Legalize ND, said he's encouraged by their latest numbers.

"The message of ending marijuana arrests is resounding in North Dakota, and these results demonstrate that voters are hearing our call for action. For months I've been saying this is not in the bag. It's not a blowout that the last two polls have suggested. We just don't think those polls have been in line with demographics of the state."

"Our support has grown as we got the word out," Haymond said. "And this poll shows that we have gained. This is a dogfight and not a runaway ballgame."

The previous poll released by Legalize ND had 46 percent in favor of legalization.

Haymond said the state vote has national implications, as indicated in an article by The Nation magazine which called the referendum one of the top 10 election results to watch.

The three main reasons is that if it passes farmers can benefit greatly by having another cash crop, the personal freedom aspect and the criminal justice reform aspect to the issue which includes sealing of marijuana possession convictions.

Haymond said FBI statistics show the state is 47th in usage of marijuana per capita, but sixth highest in marijuana possession arrests.

"It's time to stop tearing families apart," he said. "Legalize ND is quick to point out that driving under the influence and distribution to minors will remain illegal and strengthened if Measure 3 is approved, and that current laws regarding smoking in public will apply to marijuana as well."

Wefald has a different take on the issue and has been encouraged in recent days with the continuing number of organizations and business groups that have joined in the opposition.

The lastest was ND United, which is the union group of state employees and teachers, who said they were opposing the measure but not joining the coalition against it, said Wefald, a former judge and state attorney general.

"We couldn't be more excited to have this incredible united philosophical support from people and organizations from so many business sectors, education, law enforcement, health care, utilities, city and county officials, state officials, legislators, contractors, several chambers of commerce, churches and the list keeps growing every day," Wefald said.

The list is available on VoteNoOn3ND.com.

Wefald said one thing he has heard in his travels and meeting with groups is that passing the recreational issue will solve the issue of medical marijuana use that passed by an almost 64 percent margin almost two years ago, but is still not available.

"First of all, medical marijuana will be available in the next few months and implementation is on par with other states that have approved it," he said. "Secondly, the marijuana that will be either commercially grown or grown in people's basements or backyards most likely will not be of the proper dosage, strength or quality needed by people who could benefit from medical marijuana and we should all be very concerned about an untested, unregulated product.

"And thirdly, Measure 3 is not about medical marijuana, but the proponents like to bring it up to derail people so they don't focus on the measure we will be voting on," Wefald said.

As for the polls, Wefald doesn't give much stock to polls, but after seeing the last two polls the Bismarck man doubts the Legalize ND poll is correct.

"We'll keep working," he said.

The latest poll from The Kitchens Group, based in Orlando, Fla., polled 412 likely state voters from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14 and had a margin of error of 4.9 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

In its conclusion, it stated," Measure 3 has the support of likely voters in North Dakota. It has strong support from voters under the age of 50. Passage of Measure 3 is greatly dependent upon the voters under the age of 50 voting in at least their historical percentages. If the electorate is skewed toward the older, more conservative voters, passage could be problematic."

The last television poll commissioned by KVLY-TV in late September by Strategic Research Associates of Austin, Texas, surveyed 650 likely voters with a margin of error of 3.8 percent. That poll showed 59 percent opposed to the measure, with just 30 percent support and 11 percent undecided.

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