Poll shows pot measure trailing

Support also dropping for tax cap initiative, pollsters say

Posted: Thursday, October 05, 2000

A new poll shows increasing opposition to a proposed statewide property tax cap and a separate measure that would legalize marijuana.

The poll, conducted by Dittman Research of Anchorage, indicates growth in the number of opponents to the tax cap, which many political observers predicted would pass. It also counters a recent survey by marijuana initiative supporters who claimed they had the lead.

Of the 518 Alaska residents surveyed about the property tax cap, only 39 percent said they would vote for the initiative, which would prevent municipalities from taxing at a rate higher than 1 percent, or $1,000 on a $100,000 house. Forty-eight percent opposed it and 13 percent said they were unsure.

Some 61 percent opposed the marijuana measure, which would legalize pot and other hemp products, as well as provide amnesty and possible restitution for people convicted of past marijuana-related crimes. Thirty-five percent favored the measure, with 6 percent undecided. The poll, taken between Sept. 21 and Oct. 1, has a sampling error of 4 percent.

Opponents of the tax cap were pleased with the survey, which showed greater opposition to the initiative than a similar poll Dittman conducted for a private client a month ago. That poll showed the two sides in a statistical dead heat.

Dittman provided the results of that survey to Alaskans United Against the Cap and helped interpret them. However, both the campaign and the pollster said they have no financial relationship.

Ira Perman, campaign coordinator for the group, said the survey validates the campaign's strategy of using frequent public presentations to highlight the cap's potential impact. Opponents say lost taxes would devastate education, cut into essential services and damage the economy.

Anchorage residents showed the strongest opposition, with 57 percent saying they would vote no. In Fairbanks, 47 percent said they would vote yes, while 45 percent of Southeast residents were in favor.

Uwe Kalenka, one of the tax cap initiative's sponsors, dismissed the poll results as irrelevant: "The only one that counts is on Nov. 8."

Wev Shea, a former U.S. attorney and a leader of the campaign against the marijuana initiative, was cautiously optimistic about the poll.

"It's a good indication that the voters are becoming educated," Shea said.

Sil De Chellis of Free Hemp in Alaska, one of four groups backing the measure, said the organization's own polls showed the measure with more than 50 percent support. However, he would not disclose details.

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