Marijuana plants on display at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles in July. (David McNew/Reuters)

Proponents of a ballot measure legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Alaska have at least one thing going for them: money.

The main organization promoting the cause, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, has spent just over $827,000 as of campaign filings submitted last Friday, more than a dozen times the amount spent by their opponents. The “Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2,” the group opposed to the measure, has spent just under $69,000 so far. For the proponents of legalization, all that spending leaves them with about $40,000 on hand. For opponents, about $27,000 remains to be spent should they choose.

But despite spending 12 times more than their opponents, supporters of legalization aren’t guaranteed a win: polls out this week—each paid for by the opposing campaigns—yielded conflicting results, as first reported by the Alaska Dispatch News.


One poll, paid for by the opponents of the measure and conducted by Dittman Research, found that 53 percent of likely voters opposed the measure and 43 percent supported it after hearing it described with wording largely lifted directly from the opening lines of the the actual ballot measure. The 600 voters interviewed for that poll were screened by age, party, gender and location to match historical general election turnout. An August Public Policy Polling survey similarly found opposition leading by a five-point margin in Alaska, while a September poll in Oregon — the other state considering legalizing recreational marijuana — found support for legalization up by “the narrowest and most unreliable of margins”— four percentage points.

But another Alaska poll out this week, paid for by proponents of the measure and conducted by Ivan Moore, found support at 57 percent and opposition at 39 percent. Responses for the 568 likely voters interviewed for the poll were weighted to better reflect the Alaska population. That poll’s question did not track as closely to the language of the measure itself and focuses on the removal of criminal penalties and “constitutional protections” granted to home cultivation.

Moore criticizes the Dittman poll for the methods used in polling cellphones, while Dittman President Matt Larkin argues that Moore’s results are likely skewed by the wording of the question. Nationally, 50 percent oppose legalization while 44 percent support it, according to poll results released last month by the well-regarded Public Religion Research Institute.

The first few lines of the ballot measure:

This bill would tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana in Alaska. The bill would make the use of marijuana legal for persons 21 years of age or older. The bill would allow a person to possess, use, show, buy, transport, or grow set amounts of marijuana, with the growing subject to certain restrictions.

The Dittman polling question

And more specifically, Ballot Measure 2 is a bill that would tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana in Alaska for people 21 years of age or older. The bill would allow a person to possess, use, show, buy, transport, or grow set amounts of marijuana.

If the election were held today, would you vote for this initiative to become law – Yes or No?

The Moore polling question

There is an initiative on the General election ballot that would tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana in Alaska. Criminal penalties would be removed for adults over the age of 21 who possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and constitutional protections allowing home cultivation would be preserved.