LIFESTYLE

Pot? Eh, We'll Pass

Marijuana is shown for sale at the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Clinic in San Francisco, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010. Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will enforce its marijuana laws in California even if voters next month make the state the first in the nation to legalize the drug. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Marijuana is shown for sale at the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Clinic in San Francisco, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010. Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government will enforce its marijuana laws in California even if voters next month make the state the first in the nation to legalize the drug. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

With two weeks to go before the election, support for California's ballot measure to legalize marijuana has fallen behind in a new poll of likely voters, with the biggest drops among independents voters and Latinos.

The Public Policy Institute of California poll released late Wednesday finds that 44 percent of likely voters surveyed back the measure while 49 percent oppose it. Seven percent said they were undecided.

The same poll last month found Proposition 19 leading by 11 points, 52 to 41, with an identical percentage undecided.

"I think the burden of proof is totally on the yes side to convince voters that this is not just a good concept but a good law," said survey director Mark Baldassare. "That's not taking place yet."
Backing from independents and Latinos fell below 50 percent. The percentage of Democrats behind the measure also fell, though a majority still favor it. Republicans remained strongly opposed.

The Yes campaign must also overcome an enthusiasm gap to eke out a victory, according to poll results. The survey found that 67 percent of likely "no" voters felt the outcome of the Proposition 19 vote was "very important," while pot backers, appropriately enough, are a lot more relaxed: only 40 percent of "yes" voters felt the same way.

Pollsters surveyed 2,002 California adults from Oct. 10 to Oct. 17 and identified 1,067 as likely voters. The margin of error among likely voters was 3.5 percentage points.

No on Prop. 19 campaign spokesman Roger Salazar gave credit for the decline in support to widespread media coverage of the contest, which he said has allowed opponents of the measure to get their message out despite little financial support.

"That has been able to blunt the chronic disinformation that the yes side has been putting out there," Salazar said.

The Yes on 19 campaign blamed the downward trend on what spokesman Dan Newman called "misinformation and scare tactics part of the establishment's last gasp attempt to protect the status quo and continue the failed war on marijuana."

The shift in sentiment against the measure comes despite a large influx of cash to the Yes campaign, which has raised at least 10 times the money of the opposition.

Lawmakers in the heart of California's pot country have reluctantly thrown their support behind Proposition 19.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 with one abstention Tuesday to endorse the measure.

Proposition 19 has faced unexpected opposition from outlaw growers in the state's so-called Emerald Triangle who worry legalization could lead to plummeting marijuana prices.

Supervisors backing the measure said the board could not ignore marijuana's role in the county's economic future.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.