Poll: State medical marijuana implementation effort gets mixed reviews

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 424 views 

More Arkansans disapprove of the state’s effort to implement medical marijuana than approve of the effort to launch the industry in the Natural State. The question is: are these voters opponents who voted against the measure or supporters who want a faster pace?

Arkansas voters passed a constitutional amendment nearly one year ago to allow for medical cannabis under certain conditions. The state legislature passed a series of laws to institute the voter-approved measure and a regulatory commission has been developing guidelines and overseeing the application process to implement the law.

In the most recent Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College survey of 784 Arkansas voters, they were asked:

Q. Last fall, Arkansas voters passed a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana. Since the election, state officials have been working to implement regulations and licensing requirements for medical marijuana growers and dispensers across the state. Based on what you know, do you approve or disapprove of the state’s implementation of the medical marijuana program in Arkansas?

37% Approve
46.5% Disapprove
16.5% Don’t Know

“As Dr. Barth’s analysis asserts, it appears that those who voted for medical marijuana want a faster start to the program and those who voted against it are still opposed to its implementation,” said Roby Brock, TB&P Editor-in-Chief.

“We’ll likely see these numbers shift once the industry is in full swing a year from now. I’ll be most interested in voter attitudes on the subject once stories of usage make their way to the public,” he added.

Dr. Jay Barth, professor of political science at Hendrix College, helped craft and analyze the poll results. He offered this analysis:

“The final issue about which we gauged Arkansans’ opinions was the process through which the medical marijuana program created by ballot measure last fall is being implemented.

“During this year, the commission implementing the program has promulgated a number of key regulations of the program and has collected hundreds of applications to serve as cultivators and dispensaries for the program. The large number of applicants ensures that the program will take longer than first expected to get fully off the ground.

“A plurality of the poll respondents did voice disapproval of the implementation process. The key question: Which groups of Arkansans are most concerned about this process is proceeding?

“An examination of the crosstabs indicates that it is mostly those groups that opposed the amendment in last year’s vote who are opposed to the implementation. Specifically, Republicans and those over 65 oppose implementation by rates of 59% and 52% respectively. This means that those who opposed the measure initially continue to hold on to their opposition.

“Comparatively, voters under 30, Democrats, and African-Americans —- three groups which supported medical marijuana based on our polling last year -— show plurality support for the implementation. While generally supportive, those groups’ enthusiasm is likely held down by the slowness of the program’s implementation. Thus, opponents continue to voice their concerns (notably, the overall rate of disapproval nearly matches the ‘no’ voting percentage last November 8th), while supporters have yet to see the fruits of their votes a year ago.”

This survey was conducted on Monday, October 23, 2017. The poll, which has a margin of error of +/-3.5%, was completed using IVR survey technology among 784 Arkansas voters statewide. Age and gender were weighted.

Age (weighted)
12%   Under the age of 30
24%  Between the ages of 30 and 44
39%  Between the ages of 45 and 64
24%  65 or older

9%  African-American
1%  Asian-American
2%  Latino
78%  Caucasian or White
10%  Other

Party Identification
31%  Democratic
36.5%  Republican
27.5%  Independent
5%  Other

Gender (weighted)
48%  Male
52%  Female

All media outlets are welcome to reprint, reproduce, or rebroadcast information from this poll with proper attribution to Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College.

For interviews, contact Talk Business & Politics Roby Brock by email at roby@talkbusiness.net or Dr. Jay Barth by email at barth@hendrix.edu.