Sacramento Bee: Survey: Pot legalization, tax hikes backed in California

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With recreational marijuana headed for the fall ballot, a new poll finds that 60 percent of likely voters support the concept of legitimizing the drug in California.

The Public Policy Institute of California, in a poll out Wednesday, looked at the general popularity of other issues expected on the Nov. 8 ballot.

A majority of likely voters, 67 percent, back boosting the tax on tobacco purchases to fund healthcare programs. Separately, 58 percent support extending income taxes on annual earnings exceeding $250,000 for a dozen years to pay for schools and healthcare. Both are based on ballot proposals, though poll participants were not read actual summaries of the measures.

Advocates like to have strong majorities of support at the beginning of campaigns to absorb opposition attacks that come via expensive advertising campaigns.

Mark Baldassare, the president and chief executive of PPIC, noted how the measures fared the last time they went before voters. Proposition 30, on which the income tax extension is based, passed with more than 55 percent of the vote in 2012, the last presidential election year. The $2-a-pack tobacco tax hike, known in its last iteration as Proposition 29, a $1 per pack increase, lost narrowly in the June 2012 election, finishing with 49.8 percent.

“Now, the concepts start out from a position of strength,” Baldassare said.

With marijuana, overall support has changed little since last year. However, Baldassare said it’s significant legalization is holding steady. As the concept of legitimizing pot becomes more consistent and settled, focus could shift to how much money the measure would generate and what it would be spent on.

About seven in 10 adults said it’s very, or somewhat, important that revenues generated by pot sales be spent on substance abuse prevention and treatment.

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