Marijuana Poll: Most Say Alcohol Bigger Problem Than Pot, Back Social Use Plan

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Last month, we previewed the Limited Social Marijuana Consumption Initiative, a proposal that "gives private businesses the ability to allow adult marijuana consumption in areas that are only accessible to people 21 and older, as long as it's not viewable to the public," according to proponent Mason Tvert.

Then, last week, we noted that the language of the initiative had been okayed by the City of Denver and a petition drive was being launched.

During our previous interview, Tvert, communication director for the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the main advocates behind Amendment 64, the 2012 measure that legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in Colorado, expressed confidence that the initiative would reach the November 2015 ballot and win the support of a voting majority in Denver.

A new poll suggests that the campaign is off to a positive start, with 56 percent of those surveyed saying they'd back the proposal, with just 40 percent opposed.

But equally interesting is another tidbit from the survey — one that showed respondents feel alcohol use is riskier than marijuana consumption by a staggering four-to-one margin.

We've shared the complete results of the survey here; it was conducted June 12-15 and includes answers from 629 "likely voters." However, here's a key question:

Overall, do you feel more problems in Denver are caused by alcohol use or marijuana use, or do you think alcohol and marijuana use cause about equal numbers of problems?

Those who see alcohol use as a bigger issue far outnumbered folks who feel the same about cannabis. The breakdown: 55 percent versus 13 percent, with 26 percent maintaining that alcohol and marijuana use causes about the same number of problems and 6 percent uncertain.

In a statement, Tvert underscored this last finding.

“Anyone who has been out in LoDo on a weekend night is all too aware of the problems associated with alcohol use,” he says. “The evidence is clear that drinking fuels violent and destructive behavior, whereas marijuana use does not. Adults who would prefer to make the safer choice while they’re out on a Friday or Saturday night should be able to do so.”

He adds: “Denver voters have repeatedly voted in favor of treating marijuana similarly to alcohol. For the same reasons many adults enjoy having a drink in a social setting, many adults would enjoy using cannabis.... Adults visiting Denver who can legally purchase cannabis need somewhere to go to consume it. The goal here is to reduce the likelihood of marijuana being used on the street and in other public areas.”

Here's the complete survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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