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Med pot reform popular, poll shows


HELENA — A new poll released Wednesday found strong support for the state's stricter medical marijuana law, and showed that potential voters are nearly equally split in the U.S. Senate election.

The Montana State University-Billings poll said 62 percent of respondents favored the overhaul of the pot law adopted by the Legislature earlier this year.

The survey taken in mid-October included 411 adult residents and had a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

The Legislature's crackdown on pot repealed the original medical marijuana statute approved by voters in 2004. It replaced it with a much tougher law that makes it more difficult to get a medical marijuana card and severely limits the supply of the drug.

Supporters of the new law argued it was needed to control an industry that was out of control.

The medical marijuana industry countered that the Legislature went too far in several ways. Pot providers also are fighting the move in an ongoing court battle and have successfully placed a measure on the 2012 ballot asking voters if they want to keep the Legislature's tough new law or return to the original law.

The poll, however, found that only 28 percent of respondents opposed the Legislature's move.

The poll also found that 55 percent believe medical marijuana users should not be allowed to buy guns and ammunition. Recently, the federal government warned gun dealers not to sell to people holding medical marijuana cards.

The poll also found that 55 percent of Montanans believe global warming is occurring. The proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline was supported by 64 percent of respondents.

Montanans were equally split at about 36 percent on whether they would support a Republican or a Democrat in the 2012 U.S. Senate election. The poll did not name the candidates — incumbent U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, or his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg.

The poll found that 25 percent were undecided in the race.

"At this point, all the races in Montana, the major races with the exception of the presidency are close, and they are going to stay close," said MSU-B political scientist Craig Wilson, who helped run the poll.

Other poll findings:

  • In the presidential election, 33 percent of respondents said they would side with a Democrat and 41 percent a Republican while 21 percent were undecided.
  • Respondents were more closely split on picking a side in the governor's race. thirty-one 31 percent sided with a generic Democrat and 33 percent picked the GOP, while 33 percent were undecided.
  • Republicans fared better in a generic U.S. House matchup, getting backing from 34 percent while 29 percent picked a Democrat and 35 percent were undecided.
  • In a generic pick for the state Legislature, Republicans were supported 32 percent of the time compared with 27 percent for Democrats.
  • The 2011 Legislature was given positive marks by 35 percent of respondents, while 32 percent gave a negative review and 33 percent were undecided.
  • The tea party was viewed favorably by 35 percent and negatively by 34 percent.
  • Asked if they were doing better economically than five years ago, 45 percent said they were worse off, 37 percent answered about the same and just 15 percent said they were better off.


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