Legalizing, taxing marijuana opposed

In a state that is comfortable taxing gambling to pay the bills, Nevadans still are prudish when it comes to taxing marijuana.

A statewide poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., for the Review-Journal and 8NewsNow shows 52 percent of likely voters oppose legalizing and taxing marijuana and 42 percent support the idea.

That's not much different from 2002 and 2006 when 39 percent and 44 percent of voters supported ballot measures on the subject, both of which failed.

The state's descent into a grueling recession and public revenue shortfalls that could prompt drastic cuts in services during the 2011-13 budget cycle don't appear to have changed minds on the subject of marijuana.

David Schwartz, campaign manager for Nevadans for Sensible Marijauana Laws, said results show his group has a lot of work to do, particularly among Republicans.

"Public education is going to be a big part of what we are doing," said Schwartz, who needs to get 97,002 signatures by Nov. 9 to get a marijuana question on the 2012 ballot.

The group wants voters to authorize 120 retail outlets for marijuana and 50 wholesale growers. The proposal would call for a $50 per ounce excise tax at the wholesale level and sales tax would apply on retail transactions. Sales would be restricted to people 21 years or older.

According to the survey, the group has plenty of work to do to convince Republicans, who oppose legalizing and taxing marijuana by a 69 percent to 27 percent margin. Democrats support the notion 53 percent to 38 percent, and independents are in support 51 percent to 46 percent.

Among men, 45 percent support legalization and 52 percent oppose. Among women 39 percent support and 52 percent oppose.

Mason-Dixon conducted the survey Monday through Wednesday. A total of 625 registered voters were interviewed statewide by telephone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at or 702-477-3861.