A brand new survey shows voter support for marijuana reform, giving high hopes for change in Michigan law to legalization advocates.

A Michigan senator says legal marijuana doesn’t have hope of passing in the Legislature as legalization supporters work to bring the matter before voters in 2018.

EPIC-MRA (Educational, Political, Industrial, Consumer Market Research Analysis) of Lansing ran the poll by phone in January and February of 2017.

It demonstrates 57 percent of the 600 people surveyed said they’d definitely vote yes, probably, or lean toward voting yes on a ballot question about legalizing pot in Michigan with particular conditions, based on an EPIC-MRA news release.

The outcomes are up four points in comparison to an identical survey in March 2016, EPIC-MRA said.

The group pushing for marijuana legalization in Michigan, MI Legalize 2018, heralds the latest results.

“We commend Michigan NORML (The Michigan chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) for commissioning the survey question,” attorney Jeff Hank, leader of MI Legalize 2018 said. “The continuity of this survey brings credibility to the results and confirms this as a dependable gauge of public sentiment.”

In 2016, MI Legalize turned in 354,000 signatures for the ballot problem — more than the total needed to qualify for the November ballot — but state rules making signatures older than 180 days void blocked it from being added to the ballot.

MI Legalize differs with the interpretation of the law that kept the issue off the ballot, and sued the state before the 2016 election in an unsuccessful bid to bring the problem to voters.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said he supports medical marijuana after spending time analyzing the problem. But, as a former police officer, he really doesn’t support legalizing recreational marijuana.

He said legalizing weed, a “social drug,” could result in more accidents on Michigan roads as well as other issues.

“The marijuana that we’ve got today is much stronger than the marijuana many people grew up with in the ’60s and the ’70s,” Jones said. “This more powerful. It’s dangerous, it causes more bad health effects.”

He said lots of people have attempted to convince him that taxing sales of legal marijuana would bring in a great deal of money to the state, however he believes the negatives would outweigh the positives.

“Also, it is going to only increase unemployment because most employers don’t want to hire people that use marijuana,” Jones said.

Legalization of marijuana has “no hope” of making it through the Legislature, Jones said, meaning a ballot question could function as the only path to becoming law.

“They keep running these polls hoping to persuade people to pay for a ballot initiative,” he said. “If they gather the signatures and put it on the ballot, so be it.”

Rick Thompson, a member of the board of directors of both MINORML and MI Legalize, calls the 4 percent increase a spike and said it “has to be credited in part to the work of MI Legalize and the extensive public relations associated with the campaign.”

Here is the question respondents were asked in the recent 2017 survey, and also the results:

“On another topic, voters may circulate petitions to place a proposal on a future election ballot relating to the issue of marijuana. The proposal would make the possession and cultivation of limited amounts marijuana legal in the State of Michigan for adults age 21 or older. Also, it would allow the sale of marijuana to adults age 21 or older only by stores that would be licensed by the state, and finally, it would tax the sale of marijuana by these state licensed stores. If this proposal were to appear on a future election ballot, if the election were held today, would you vote yes to approve of the proposal, or would you vote no to oppose it?

[IF VOTING YES/NO, ASK: “Would you definitely vote (yes/no), or probably vote (yes/no)?” AND CODE BEST RESPONSE]

[IF UNDECIDED, ASK: “Well, if the election were held today and you had to decide right now, would you lean toward voting yes to approve of the proposed law or no to oppose it?” AND CODE BEST RESPONSE]

41 percent – Definitely vote yes
12 percent – Probably vote yes
4 percent – Lean toward voting yes
57 percent – TOTAL VOTE YES

40 percent – TOTAL VOTE NO
30 percent – Definitely vote no
8 percent – Probably vote no
2 percent – Lean toward voting no

3 percent Undecided/Refused

The survey has a 4 percent error rate, EPIC-MRA said.

EPIC-MRA said voters surveyed in every region of Michigan supported the proposition, which range from a 50 to 46 percent majority in Northern Michigan to a 62 to 35 percent majority in the “outer metro” area.

Democrats (74 percent), particularly Democratic women (75 percent), were more supportive than voters with other partisan affiliations, with Independent women supportive by a 50 to 43 percent majority and Independent men supportive by a 50 to 48 percent majority. Republican men opposed the proposition by a 50 to 48 percent majority, while Republican women were more opposed (61 to 36 percent), EPIC-MRA said.

Younger voters age 18-34 were most supportive (78 percent), followed by voters age 35 to 49 (61 percent), with voters age 50 to 64 supportive by 56 percent, and voters age 65 and over most opposed (by 55 percent).

The 2017 survey results demonstrate increased support for marijuana legalization when compared with similar recent surveys, EPIC-MRA said.

In March of 2016, 53 percent of people surveyed would vote “yes” on a ballot proposal to legalize and tax marijuana, with 45 percent voting “no” and 2 percent on the fence, EPIC-MRA said.

In December of 2014, a 50 percent of people surveyed said they would vote “yes” on a question with similar wording, with 46 percent opposed.

“Clearly, support for the legalization and taxation of marijuana continues to rise with time, and when enough valid petition signatures are gathered to require the proposal to be placed on the ballot in 2018, younger voters would likely be very inspired to take part in the election to offer their strong support for the proposal,” EPIC-MRA said in a news release concerning the most recent survey.