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How Not to Ask a Marijuana Polling Question

In my continuing quest to improve how polling is conducted around marijuana policy I want to point out what I consider to be the least useful way to ask a marijuana question. This is from High Point University Poll:

There are several reasons why it is a bad idea to combine marijuana legalization and medical marijuana into a single question. They should also be asked separately.

First, it is very easy for people to misinterpret poll questions with multiple parts like this. When pollster try to combine these questions they often leave out the critical fact that recreational marijuana would be tax and regulated or the important clause that personal use would be legal in addition to medical use. For example, a voter might support legalization for adults but consider allowing medical marijuana much more important so “medical use” is closer to their view. This would under count support for legalization.

More significantly, allowing legitimate patients to use cannabis for medical purposes should not be considered part of some spectrum of how people think the law should treat recreational use. These are separate issues that were only combined because the idiots, drug warriors, and political cowards in our federal government refuse to recognize the science showing marijuana medical value. After all there are many “hard drugs,” like cocaine, methamphetamine and morphine, which are legal for legitimate medical purposes but that has no impact on how people think the recreational use of these drugs should be treated under the law.

If a pollster insists on trying to put people’s opinion about marijuana on a spectrum they should at least make it only about recreational use. For example, the poll could ask something like: do you think adults using marijuana at home should be punished with jail time, only a $100 ticket, or personal marijuana use should be legal under a taxed and regulated system?

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

CommunityJust Say Now

How Not to Ask a Marijuana Polling Question

In my continuing quest to improve how polling is conducted around marijuana policy I want to point out what I consider to be the least useful way to ask a marijuana question. This is from High Point University Poll:

There are several reasons why it is a bad idea to combine marijuana legalization and medical marijuana into a single question. They should also be asked separately.

First, it is very easy for people to misinterpret poll questions with multiple parts like this. When pollster try to combine these questions they often leave out the critical fact that recreational marijuana would be tax and regulated or the important clause that personal use would be legal in addition to medical use. For example, a voter might support legalization for adults but consider allowing medical marijuana much more important so “medical use” is closer to their view. This would under count support for legalization.

More significantly, allowing legitimate patients to use cannabis for medical purposes should not be considered part of some spectrum of how people think the law should treat recreational use. These are separate issues that were only combined because the idiots, drug warriors, and political cowards in our federal government refuse to recognize the science showing marijuana medical value. After all there are many “hard drugs,” like cocaine, methamphetamine and morphine, which are legal for legitimate medical purposes but that has no impact on how people think the recreational use of these drugs should be treated under the law.

If a pollster insists on trying to put people’s opinion about marijuana on a spectrum they should at least make it only about recreational use. For example, the poll could ask something like: do you think adults using marijuana at home should be punished with jail time, only a $100 ticket, or personal marijuana use should be legal under a taxed and regulated system?

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at http://pendinghorizon.com