FARGO — An overwhelming majority of respondents favor legalizing recreational marijuana in North Dakota, according to an Inforum website poll conducted this week.
And while those casting ballots could live anywhere, North Dakotans favor the move by a nearly four-to-one margin.
The poll, conducted through Polco, showed 514 of 624 poll-takers, or 82.4 percent, support legalization in the state, where voters will cast ballots on the measure Nov. 6.
Narrowing results to North Dakota residents — 237 of those who participated in the poll — showed 188, or 79.3 percent, support Measure 3. That left 20.7 percent of North Dakotans against the move.
Inforum, the first newspaper in the country to begin regularly using Polco, asked, “Should North Dakota legalize recreational marijuana?” after Secretary of State Al Jaeger confirmed Monday, Aug. 13, that the measure received enough signatures to appear on the Election Day ballot.
Polco is a civic communication platform used by municipalities, local leaders and community organizations to obtain validated feedback through online polling about specific topics or initiatives. Wispolitics.com, a political news service in Wisconsin, also uses the polling service. The first time participants take a poll, they must register to cast a ballot. No personal data is collected, but poll-takers can provide comments to further community discussion.
North Dakota results
Both sexes overwhelmingly supported recreational marijuana legalization. Of the 155 male voters, 127 voted yes while 28 voted no. Of the 81 female voters, 60 voted yes while 21 voted no. There was one unknown vote which also was a yes.
Marijuana may no longer be a blue or red issue, as it appears to be supported by voters from each party.
Both Republicans and Democrats support the legalization:
There were 101 likely Republican votes. 72 of those were yes. 29 were no.
Of the 69 likely Democratic votes, 59 said yes while 10 voted no.
Among 64 likely Independent votes, 55 respondents cast a yes vote and nine replied no.
There were two Republican votes — one each for yes and no — and a non-partisan ballot for yes.
There is support from all age groups. The largest group of poll participants were aged 40-49, closely followed by those 50-59. The 60-69 and 30-39 had the same number of responses.
Here’s a closer look at those groups:
• Of the 50 votes from those aged 40-49, 39 voted yes
• 31 of 46 from those aged 50-59 voted yes
• In the 30-39 age group, 34 of 37 voted yes
• 30 of 37 participants in the 60-69 age group voted yes
Dave Owen, chairman of the North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Initiative, said the poll could be representative of what North Dakotans want in November.
“It shows the people of North Dakota see that and actually want this,” he said Thursday. “We are doing really well across all of these groups. It shows we get our message out and we talk to people.”
The measure, if approved, would amend state law to legalize “non-violent marijuana related activity” for those over 21, except for selling to minors, and it wouldn’t impose limits on how much somebody could grow or possess. It would also create a process for expunging records of those previously convicted of a crime that’s legalized by the measure.
On Monday, Mark Friese, a former Bismarck police officer who’s now a criminal defense attorney in Fargo, said the measure is “very broadly written” and could offer new defenses for non-violent offenses involving the drug.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said a change in law could shift law enforcement issues. “And I have said for a long time that I don’t think that if marijuana is legalized in North Dakota we will be healthier or safer.”
Among other benefits, Owen said Thursday that legalizing recreational marijuana will “create more jobs, provide opportunity for those who had been convicted, and finally get people the medicinal marijuana they’ve been waiting for.”
North Dakota voters approved medical marijuana in a 2016 vote, but it is still not available in the state.
“We believe people in ND want (recreational marijuana), we believe they support this,” Owen said. “There’s a reason we’ve been able to get this far, and I think this confirms it.”