Support for legalization continues to grow in the Golden State.

marijuana californiaCalifornia is the top target for marijuana proponents in 2016. The results of a new poll suggest their chances are improving by the day.

The survey, released by the Public Policy Institute of California, found that about 55 percent of California voters want to see cannabis legalized for recreational use. The state already has perhaps the most liberal medical weed policy in the country.

Voters approved that law in 1996, starting off a chain of events that legalized medical weed in 24 states (as of this year). Then in 2010, the state voted on a ballot initiative seeking to adopt a legal recreational pot law; the initiative failed.

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Reform attempts failed in 2014

Four years later, several independent groups tried to push a legalization proposition on the ballot again. None of them succeeded.

But 2014 was a midterm election year, meaning an older, whiter electorate, not very likely to approve cannabis reform – though activists succeeded in Oregon and Alaska despite those odds. The failure to get on the ballot thus wasn’t viewed as a terrible setback.

The new poll suggests chances for success will be much better in 2016. That year includes a presidential election, and those typically draw a much younger electorate that is more willing to legalize pot.

Push for 2016 is well under way

Girl Smoking MarijuanaEfforts to legalize next year are already under way. There are early signs the movement could run into the same problem that killed efforts last year: a glut of competing initiatives, most of them unappealing to mainstream voters.

It remains to be seen whether that scenario will repeat in the run-up to the 2016 vote. If advocates fail to collect enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, it could mark a massive setback for pot reform in the state. If voters reject the proposals at the ballot, the damage could be even worse.

But the poll shows the situation is improving at a rapid clip. The survey found that Californians in general – not just likely voters – support legalization by a relatively wide margin, with 53 percent backing the idea. That’s just 2 points shy of the level of support among voters.

Previous polls have found a steadily growing rate of support for weed reform in California. The 2010 legalization proposal failed with a vote of roughly 53 percent to 47 percent of voters. The new poll shows backing for the idea has increased nearly 10 percentage points, more than enough to pass a ballot initiative next November.

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