Gazette State Poll: Voters favor new marijuana law, 44% to 31%

2012-09-22T00:00:00Z 2012-09-26T15:28:05Z Gazette State Poll: Voters favor new marijuana law, 44% to 31%By CHARLES S. JOHNSON Gazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
September 22, 2012 12:00 am  • 

HELENA — Montana voters support the more restrictive medical marijuana law and strongly back a ballot issue requiring girls under age 16 to get parental consent before having an abortion, a new Gazette State Poll shows.

They also favor another ballot issue that would deny state services to “illegal aliens.”

Mason Dixon Polling & Research Inc. took the poll Monday through Wednesday for the Gazette State Bureau, interviewing 625 registered voters who said they were likely to vote in November. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points, although the margin rises with subgroups like gender.

Here’s a look at the three questions polled:

-- Medical marijuana. Initiative Referendum 124 will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. Voters will decide whether to keep the more restrictive medical marijuana law passed by the 2011 Legislature or reject it and go back to the voter-approved 2004 initiative that legalized the use of marijuana for some medical purposes.

The Republican majorities passed the more stringent law, Senate Bill 423, in response to skyrocketing numbers of people obtaining medical marijuana cards, large wholesale growing operations and storefront dispensaries that sprung up in some cities. Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer let it become law without his signature. Medical marijuana advocates criticized the law as overly harsh.

After the Legislature passed the new law, medical marijuana advocates collected more than 35,000 signatures to put it on the ballot as a referendum.

Montanans will vote for Initiative Referendum 124 if they want to keep the 2011 law and against it if they choose to reject the law and go back to the 2004 initiative. SB423 repealed the initiative.

Poll results showed 44 percent are for IR-124 to keep the 2011 law, while 31 percent are against, with 25 percent undecided.

Broken down by gender, the poll showed 46 percent of men favor IR-124, while 37 percent oppose it, with 17 percent undecided. Among women, 42 percent back IR-124, with 25 percent opposing it and 33 percent undecided.

By political party, Republicans back IR-124 by 52 percent to 31 percent, with 17 percent undecided. Democrats were split, 33 percent to 32 percent, with 35 percent undecided. Independents favored IR-124 by 46 percent to 31 percent, with 23 percent undecided.

-- Parental notification for minors getting abortions. Legislative Referendum 120 prohibits a physician from performing an abortion on a girl under age 16 unless the doctor notifies a parent or guardian at least 48 hours before the procedure. The measure waives the need for consent if there is a medical emergency, it is waived by a youth court in a sealed proceeding or if it is waived by the parent or guardian.

A doctor who performs abortions on minors in violation of this measure is subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability.

The measure was passed as a legislative referendum by the Republican-controlled Legislature. As a legislative referendum, it did not need to go to Schweitzer for a possible veto.

A Montana court in 1999 struck down as similar law as unconstitutional.

The poll showed 65 percent of voters support LR-120, while 28 percent oppose it, with 7 percent undecided.

By gender, 74 percent of men favor LR-120, with 19 percent opposed and 7 percent undecided. Among women, 57 percent support LR-120, while 36 percent are against it and 7 percent are undecided.

By political party, 91 percent of Republicans back LR-120, with 7 percent against it and 2 percent undecided.

Fifty percent of Democrats oppose LR-120, while 39 percent back it, with 11 percent undecided.

Independents favor LR-120 by 64 percent to 27 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

-- "Illegal aliens". Legislative Referendum 121 prohibits the state from providing state services to people who aren’t U.S. citizens or who have illegally entered or illegally remained in the United States.

It was passed by the GOP-controlled 2011 Legislature as a legislative referendum and went directly on the ballot, avoiding a possible veto by Schweitzer.

Poll results showed 57 percent of people favor denying state services to “illegal aliens,” while 29 percent oppose it, and 14 percent are undecided.

Both men and women favor LR-121. Men do by 64 percent to 28 percent, while women do by 51 percent to 30 percent, with the rest undecided.

Republicans strongly support the measure by 86 percent to 8 percent, while most Democrats are against it, 56 percent to 22 percent. The remaining voters were undecided.

Independents back LR-121 by 61 percent to 25 percent, with the rest uncertain.

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