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October 26, 2010

"Prop 19: The Day After"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting new piece of original reporting from The Crime Report about what we can and should expect on the pot prohibition front after next week's vote on California's proposition 19.  Here are some notable excerpts:

In an email to The Crime Report Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, indicated that pro-decriminalization groups are ready for a long national fight. “Win or lose on Prop 19, the plan is the same,” writes Nadelmann, “which is to put the issue on the ballot wherever polls show a reasonable majority of the electorate in a state in favor, in those states that have the initiative process, and where elected officials are unwilling to move forward ... economics, demographics and principle are all on our side.”

Indeed, if Prop 19 passes, Representative Peter Buckley of Oregon told The Crime Report he will introduce a similar measure in his state.  And, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story, Democrats across the country are watching this race closely for just that reason: if marijuana gets Democrats to the polls (the same way gay marriage drives Republicans to vote), the party might support similar initiatives in 2012.

That may be why Holder’s letter made no specific promises of a lawsuit.  In fact, in contrast to the passionate tone of the original DEA heads’ letter, it was a markedly tepid response....

In some ways, California has already blurred the national template over drug policy. In 1996, the state approved Proposition 215, which legalized pot for medical use. In the nearly 15 years since, dispensaries have either thrived or been shuttered depending upon their locations.  In Oakland, where dispensaries blend in among office buildings, the citizens even levied the nation’s first tax on the weed in 2009 , and the city council recently approved a measure allowing for industrial cultivation of marijuana.

And regardless of the outcome of Prop 19, California has already moved the goalposts on marijuana policy.  On September 30, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a new law downgrading possession of less than an ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a simple infraction, which, like a traffic ticket, carries only a $100 fine.

Some have argued that the move by the governor, who opposes Prop 19, erases the urgent need for legalization.  However, supporters claim decriminalization would save millions by allowing police to concentrate on more serious crimes.  But police say they aren’t really spending resources on petty pot offenses anyway....

Much ... depends on who wins the race for attorney general. Both candidates, Steve Cooley and Kamala Harris are officially opposed to Prop 19. In a recent debate, Harris was non-committal when asked to give details about her response should the measure pass, but Cooley was clear, saying he believed it was “unconstitutional” and “preempted by federal law.”

A few related posts on pot policy and politics:

October 26, 2010 at 05:55 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Could someone explain the preemption argument? I don't get it. The federal government can outlaw an act and states can choose not to outlaw that same act. That's not a preemption situation.

Posted by: dm | Oct 26, 2010 6:22:03 PM

But police say they aren’t really spending resources on petty pot offenses anyway....


I wonder how much helicopters cost to operate while looking for Marijuana? Then times that by 50 states then times that by hundreds of counties and so on!!

Posted by: Anon | Oct 26, 2010 11:02:52 PM

This line will end the so many thoughts that grow upon reading the post.
depends on who wins the race for attorney general. Both candidates, Steve Cooley and Kamala Harris are officially opposed to Prop 19. In a recent debate, Harris was non-committal when asked to give details about her response should the measure pass, but Cooley was clear, saying he believed it was “unconstitutional” and “preempted by federal law.”

Posted by: exercise bike stand | Oct 28, 2010 12:07:21 AM

“Win or lose on Prop 19, the plan is the same,” writes Nadelmann, “which is to put the issue on the ballot wherever polls show a reasonable majority of the electorate in a state in favor..."

When one of the chief backers of Ballot Initiative X says that, "Win or lose, we will move forward in other states with our initiative...," what does that tell you?

It tells you he expects to lose.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 28, 2010 11:43:56 AM

It tells me that if prop 19 does not pass that some other state will try it and eventually it will pass. We are in the infant stage of legalizing marijuana. It is going to happen just a matter of when.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 28, 2010 7:16:40 PM

As per the New York Daily News, on 26 October an entire Mexican police department resigns after its headquarters was attacked by cartel gunmen. Check out the photograph. This is more than crime, it's terrorism.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2010/10/27/2010-10-27_entire_police_force_in_los_ramones_mexico_quits_after_gunmen_attack_headquarters.html

The money that enables the cartels to do this comes from the pockets of US drug users. Legalizing only marijuana does not degrade the ability of the cartels to carry out attacks like the one described in the article. There is still gazillions of money flowing south from the sale of other street drugs to US drug users.

Whether the legalization of marijuana is "good" policy or whether it politically might be "doable" in the near term is pointless. Without turning off the money spigots by the legalization of all street drugs, the cartels will grow stronger and stronger.

Posted by: Fred | Oct 28, 2010 7:58:17 PM

Anon --

May I borrow your crystal ball? I wanna know what the market will do next year. Thanks.

There was a time in the 60's when people said of abolishing the death penalty, "It is going to happen just a matter of when."

And in the 70's they turned out to be right.

For a few years.

Could you fill us in on what happened then?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Oct 29, 2010 6:48:32 PM

Bill my crystal ball tells me that you are a very intelligent person. It befuddles me that you can not see the logic in legalizing marijuana. This is almost like when concealed weapons was being voted on and the opponents tried to use scare tactics saying there will be shootings and gun violence every where. That has not happened. I think that you are using the same scare tactics.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 29, 2010 7:17:54 PM

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