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WBZ-UMass Poll: Voters Favor Legal Recreational Marijuana, But Have Reservations

BOSTON (CBS) - It's been 30 years since network censors removed this joke by comedian Sam Kinison from an episode of "Saturday Night Live":

"They've taken the pot, there is no more pot. You can't get any more pot. If you give us back the pot, we'll forget the crack."

Could life be about to imitate "art" here in Massachusetts?

Read: I-Team Pot Or Not

According to the new WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio, UMass Amherst Poll poll of 700 likely Massachusetts voters (margin of error +/-4.3%), Question 4 on the November ballot – "An initiative petition for a law relative to the regulation and taxation of marijuana" – which would legalize recreational use of pot, enjoys a 53-to-40 percent lead, with seven-percent still unsure.

Ballot Question #4
(WBZ-TV graphic)

Support for the measure cuts across all demographic categories, with only voters over 55 years old and self-described conservatives opposing the measure.

If approved, Massachusetts would join Alaska, the District of Columbia, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state in legalizing possession and cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Marijuana edibles
Marijuana edibles (WBZ-TV)

But before you start investing in snack-cake stocks, keep in mind that the battle over Question 4 is far from over. (Watch a WBZ-TV debate on the issue here.)

Thirty-six percent of opponents of the measure cited harm to individuals and society as their main reason for voting no, while 30-percent of supporters insist it's "not as dangerous as other drugs."

The WBZ poll offered respondents a string of legalized-marijuana scenarios and asked if any would bother them.

About a quarter of them claimed people growing pot in their homes would be troubling; another 11-percent were concerned about people using in their own homes.

Ballot Question #4
(WBZ-TV graphic)

But those numbers soared when pot enters the public realm. Forty-one percent say they'd be bothered if a pot store opened up in their neighborhood. Fifty-two percent didn't like the idea of pot ads on TV or radio. And 61-percent expressed alarm over the prospect of people using in public.

"Asking the simple question – do you support legalization of marijuana – leads to a majority level of support," says Tatishe Nteta, associate director of the UMass Amherst Poll. "But if you ask people to think about it, I think they still may have some reservations."

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