Consider the track record — the times when the question has been directly put to voters.
Critics have questioned the accuracy of Star Tribune opinion polls for quite a few years now, and the latest results should reinforce their doubts (“Majority back medical marijuana,” Feb. 18). The results should be called “outliers,” as they record far less support for cannabis law reform than other nonpartisan polls have in recent years and months.
But the polls that really matter are the elections where people actually cast their votes. Since 1996, voters in 11 states and the District of Columbia have voted directly in favor of medicinal cannabis ballot measures, and only two states have turned it down. In Michigan, which is very comparable demographically and geographically to Minnesota, medical cannabis carried every single one of the state’s 83 counties. Therapeutic cannabis beat the past three presidents in their political strongholds — polling better than Clinton in California in 1996, better than Bush in Montana in 2004 and better than Obama in Michigan in 2008.
In 2012, ballot measures either for medical use or general legalization were voted on in five states — east, west, north and south. Cannabis reforms won in three out of five, and in every state they outpolled one or both of the major-party presidential candidates.
There’s no political risk to supporting medicinal cannabis reform legislation. And support in Minnesota very likely exceeds what the Star Tribune poll purports to measure.
OLIVER STEINBERG, St. Paul
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.