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Data Dive: Prop. 64 Poll Reveals Bikers Love Legalization (and Other Curious Trends)

October 7, 2016
In this Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 photo, Carolyn Channing joins others at a rally against Proposition 64 at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. If approved by California voters in November, Proposition 64 would legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Mager's son, Stephen, was killed in a 1996 car accident, where the driver of the vehicle he was in tested positive for THC. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Vegetarian in California? There’s a 2-to-1 chance you’re voting for cannabis legalization this election. Voting for Trump? There’s a 2-to-1 chance you’re against it.

Those numbers, the latest available, come from poll results released last week by SurveyUSA. The upshot? California’s vote on Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, could be a lot closer than you might think.

The poll, released Sept. 29, found that a slim majority—52 percent—of California adults support Prop. 64, while 41 percent oppose it. Six percent were undecided, and 1 percent said they won’t vote. Out of the four propositions the survey asked about, it was the only one that pollsters concluded was too close to predict (or, in their words, “Caution advised”).


13 Things You Might Not Know About California’s Prop. 64

We broke down the data to help keep track of what’s going on in the Golden State. In a rush? Here’s the TL;DR version:

Most Supportive

  • “Very liberal” voters — 77 percent support
  • Left-leaning independent voters — 75 percent
  • Vegetarians — 65 percent
  • Hillary Clinton voters — 63 percent
  • Union members — 62 percent
  • Voters with tattoos — 62 percent
  • Tobacco smokers — 62 percent
  • Adults 35-49 — 61 percent
  • Black voters — 59 percent
  • Motorcycle owners — 59 percent

Least Supportive

  • Donald Trump voters — 64 percent opposed
  • Conservatives — 59 percent
  • Registered Republicans — 61 percent
  • Voters 65 and older — 57 percent
  • Evangelical voters — 54 percent
  • Rural voters — 53 percent

Most Undecided

  • Vegetarians — 15 percent undecided
  • Left-leaning independent voters — 11 percent
  • Adults 18-34 — 10 percent
  • Asian voters — 10 percent
  • Bay Area residents — 10 percent
  • First-generation Americans — 9 percent
  • Independent voters — 9 percent
  • Moderate liberals — 9 percent
  • Voters making less than $40,000 annually — 9 percent

Think Cannabis is ‘Essentially Legal’ in California? Think Again

Who, Where, and Why?


Women in California are a bit wary of legalization. While more support it (49 percent) than oppose it (43 percent), women appear to be the largest group in California without majority support for Prop. 64. Among surveyed men, 55 percent favor Prop. 64.

Why the split? Past polls in California and elsewhere have suggested that women tend to be more concerned than men about certain issues, such as whether legalization would increase cannabis use among minors. (For what it’s worth, available evidence suggests that it doesn’t.)


Here’s Why Cannabis Legalization Doesn’t Lead to Higher Teen Use Rates

Age Group

Adults 35-49 are most welcoming of Prop. 64, with 61 percent in favor. Younger voters, aged 18-34, seem less certain, with 56 in support and a sizeable 10 percent undecided. Older adults tend to oppose legalization: 52 percent of people over 50 say they’ll vote against the measure. That trend continues among seniors; 57 percent of adults over 65 are opposed.


Despite similar rates of cannabis consumption, people of color are disproportionately penalized for illegal cannabis crimes compared to whites. You’ve probably heard that before. Prop. 64 proponents say legalization would help undo that disparity. Of the four racial groups identified in the survey—white, black, Hispanic, and Asian—black voters were the most supportive of the initiative, at 59 percent support. White voters came in at 54 percent support, Hispanic voters at 52 percent, and Asian voters at 46 percent. (Asian voters were also the most likely to still be undecided on Prop. 64, with 10 percent of respondents saying they hadn’t yet taken a position on the measure.)


This One Chart Captures Everything Wrong With NYC Cannabis Arrests

From what we’ve seen in other states, legalization can make a big dent in arrests rates. In Oregon, arrests fell sharply across racial lines. But the benefits of legalization haven’t always been shared equitably. Black people are still overwhelmingly more likely to be arrested for the same behavior as whites, and white business owners have disproportionately benefitted from legal, regulated markets. Legalization might be a start, but it’s not a silver bullet.

Political Views

Broadly speaking, conservative voters tend to oppose legalization while voters who identify as liberal tend to support it. Fifty-nine percent of respondents who said they were “very” or “somewhat” conservative were against legalization. Among liberals, 63 people who said they were “somewhat” liberal said they’ll vote for Prop. 64—along with a whopping 77 percent of adults who are “very” liberal. Moderate voters were, well, moderate in their support, with 56 percent in favor.

Have a motorcycle? You’re more likely to support legalization.


New to California? You’re more likely to support legalization. Sixty-one percent of residents who’ve been living in California for less than 10 years said they’ll vote for Prop. 64. Among longtime residents, 52 percent support legalization.

Where you live matters, too. While 55 percent of urban adults and 53 percent of suburban residents support Prop. 64, only 44 percent of rural residents do. Most in Greater Los Angeles (57 percent) and the San Francisco Bay Area (52 percent) are in favor of the measure, but residents outside coastal cities are less certain. The Inland Empire was narrowly in support (49 percent in favor, 44 percent opposed), and Central Valley voters were split evenly.


  • Nearly two-thirds of vegetarians in California (65 percent) plan on voting for Prop. 64. But 15 percent say they’re still undecided, the most of any group.
  • Have a motorcycle? You’re more likely to support legalization. Bikers are 59 percent in favor of the measure, while 52 percent of people who don’t own a motorcycle say they’ll vote yes.
  • Religion matters, but only sometimes. Just 41 percent of self-described evangelicals support legalization, compared to 58 percent of non-evangelicals. Being Catholic doesn’t seem to matter much, though; 57 percent of Catholics support Prop. 64, and 56 percent of non-Catholics do.
  • Military households feel about the same as their non-military counterparts. Both groups had 53 percent support for legalization. Military families, however, were slightly more likely to oppose legalization (44 percent to 40 percent).
  • Most people (58 percent) with a high-school diploma or equivalent support legalization. So do people with four-year college degrees (53 percent). But those who’ve completed only some college aren’t so sure; only 50 percent plan to vote yes.

How are you planning to vote on Prop. 64? Do these results describe you, or do you buck the demographic trends? Let us know in the comments. Need more information? Read about what you might not know is in the initiative.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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  • D wise

    When you do legalize it it will never be the same and get very restrictive and expensive
    Just like in Washington and Oregon they are targeting the medical people and trying to force it all into rec.
    Every time one turns around in Oregon cost of fees go up and a new rule.
    When it was puit on the ballot they said it will never change the medical they would leave it alone.
    That was a LIE
    Their goal is to shut down the medical side in Oregon you can believe that!

    • Sergio Farias

      Oregon & Washington weed is cheaper than Californian weed whether it is medical or “recreational”

      • D wise

        Won’t be for long!

        • Deborah Tantalo

          We have such a glut of weed here in Oregon. What do you know about it?

          • D wise

            Than why is the price so high. Little greed going on

          • Deborah Tantalo

            Perhaps, nevertheless there’s more pot here than trees! Kidding, of course, but you get the idea.

          • Avram Cohen

            You’re a special needs kind of stupid, lol

    • Avram Cohen

      Quit spouting BS, you’re full of shiit!

      • D wise


  • James Whelan

    It would be a lot more helpful if you told us what Prop 64 actually says and does instead of who likes it and who doesn’t.

    • Sergio Farias

      Read it yourself and make a truly informed decision.

    • RevJack

      The lawyer Letitia Pepper does a good job of unveiling the cleverly worded and deceitful language of 64. Look her up on YouTube.

  • Andrew Sweeney

    Legal or not, the plant is still very easy to grow, and yields enough off one plant, to suffice the average toker for many months. What is really the point of these polls? Why the fuck would anyone in a rural area care if cannabis was legal or not? It has been grown and will be grown whether or not its legal. And people concerned with children accessing cannabis? Come on grow the fuck up and get your inflated heads out of your ass. I come from many years of cannabis use, and believe me 15 years ago getting quality cannabis was more of a challenge, more often then not as a youth purchasing cannabis from the “black” market turned up inferior quality. From dirt Mexican swag with who knows what was used to grow it, to getting cannabis that was sprayed with windex to pcp. There should be more of a concern with all these damn research chemicals that are WAY easier to procure as a youth. God damn fucking baby boomers, hurry up and croak.

  • Avram Cohen

    It should be legal and hopefully will be!!

  • Fred

    Prop 64 does not really legalize cannabis. It’s just making it more restrictive with government red tape. With prop 64 an adult can be arrested for having over an ounce and or growing 7 plants. And you can only grow indoors. This does not sound like legalization to me.

  • Ruby

    Too bad prop 64 is about regulation and taxation, not legalization. All the tax money collected goes a slush fund that dies not benefit the greater good of California. Newsome and his hang really screwed this up!

  • RevJack

    And of course no mention of the opposition to 64 by well-respected and longtime activists such as Richard Eastman and Patrick Moore and the many other people who brought us 215. We need decriminalization not a power grab for corporations and government. And we certainly don’t need seed to store (or home) tracking and taxing.