Oklahoma voters may have embraced medical marijuana but they remain a bit standoffish to recreational use, a recent poll suggests.
Sixty-two percent of those surveyed by SoonerPoll on behalf of Griffin Communications said they’re against proposed State Question 797, a constitutional amendment that would cause marijuana to be treated “in a manner similar to alcohol.”
Griffin Communications owns television stations KOTV in Tulsa and KWTV in Oklahoma City.
SQ 797 backers hope to ride momentum from the passage of the medical marijuana referendum SQ 788 last month to a spot on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Secretary of State James Williamson says that’s unlikely, given the tight timeline for gathering signatures and hitting the required legal marks, but the possibility has added urgency to officials’ attempts to formulate medical marijuana rules.
The marijuana issue has injected uncertainty into an already unstable political environment, which are two things incumbents — especially majority incumbents — generally try to avoid. That’s why so many of them reacted strongly to the state board of health’s decision to pass medical marijuana rules that many said contradicted the will of the 57 percent who voted for the June 26 referendum.
The SoonerPoll survey, though, suggests there might not be quite as much opposition as believed to two of the more controversial rules. Respondents approved, 51 percent to 43 percent, a rule requiring pharmacists on duty at medical marijuana dispensaries, and were evenly split on the ban on smoked marijuana.
SoonerPoll President Bill Shapard, whose polling accurately predicted medical marijuana’s passage, said these results suggest Oklahomans still think cannabis is more dangerous than legalization advocates say.
“When (Oklahomans) voted for medical marijuana, they did so because they saw it could be used as a medicine, not because they wanted everyone smoking it,” Shapard said. “They view it as a drug and they want it treated as a drug.”
In fact, SQ 797 does place limits on the use and possession of marijuana, but it’s unclear whether that mattered to respondents.
Shapard said the most important shift in responses from his pre-election reporting on medical marijuana was among the 50 percent or so of self-identified conservatives, Republicans and evangelicals who said they supported the former.
Also of note, Tulsa-area respondents were much more opposed to recreational marijuana than those in the Oklahoma City metro.
Nearly 50 percent in the Tulsa area said they are strongly against recreational marijuana, and another 11 percent were somewhat against.
Only 36 percent strongly opposed recreational marijuana in Oklahoma City, and only 46 percent overall were against it.
One unknown variable in dealing with marijuana questions is that they tend to change the overall voter profile. The June election saw tens of thousands of new and infrequent voters turn out, many of whom voted only on the medical marijuana referendum.
The sample of 404 voters in the most recent survey consisted almost entirely of people identified as likely to vote in the Aug. 28 runoff election, which will not have a marijuana question on the ballot.
Shapard, though, said he used the same methodology for his most recent poll as he did when accurately predicting the June outcome.
The survey was conducted July 18-20 and has a 4.88 percent margin of error.