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November 14, 2010

"Backers of Legal Marijuana Find Silver Lining in Defeat of California Measure"

The title of this post is the headline of this piece from today's New York Times.  Here is how it starts:

Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana in California, received more votes than the Republican nominee for governor, Meg Whitman.  It also received untold news coverage, bringing the debate a new level of legitimacy in the eyes of many supporters. And while it lost — with 46 percent of the vote — its showing at the polls was strong enough that those supporters are confidently planning to bring it back before voters in California, and perhaps other states, in 2012.

“We’re going to win,” said Aaron Houston, the executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a nonprofit group in Washington.  “And we’re going to win a whole lot sooner than anybody thinks.”

But for all that heady talk, proponents of legalization still face a series of stiff challenges, including winning over older members of the electorate — who overwhelmingly rejected the measure — as well as wary elected officials from both political parties.  And while most advocates say that Proposition 19 was a high-water mark for the movement, many admit that the road to legalization will also require new campaign ideas, more money and a tighter, more detailed message to overcome persistent cultural concerns about the drug.

“The Prop 19 campaign really did not do anything to help people get over their fear of marijuana, the substance,” said Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, a national organization that has helped pass medical marijuana laws.  “If people believed marijuana is a dangerous drug that people shouldn’t use before the campaign, that is probably how they felt at the end of the campaign.”

In California, Proposition 19’s showing was exactly in line with a pre-election Gallup survey that found 46 percent of Americans’ favoring legalization.  That support has been growing for years, particularly in the Western states, where 58 percent now support legalization, according to Gallup.

But in an off-year election, one critical demographic for the “Yes” side simply did not show up in California: the youth vote.  “It appears that the bump that we hoped for, those hopes were overstated,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for liberalizing drug laws.  “Clearly, we were overly optimistic.”

November 14, 2010 at 02:32 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Thanks for all you do to keep the libertarian "fires" aglow.

Posted by: Ayn Rand | Nov 14, 2010 2:53:28 PM

One explanation for the slowness of self-evident change? No one can change. One must wait for the current generation to die.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 14, 2010 5:38:55 PM

There are drugs in the market tat have been legalized. But with the issue of marijuana, i must say that this has been a long fight to legalized it. There are reasons why we shouldn't legalized marijuana. This has to be taken a new perspective. Thanks a lot for sharing such informative post.

Posted by: iPhone 4 insurance | Nov 15, 2010 3:58:59 AM

New ideas generally benefit from exposure and familiarity, so they have that going for them next time (just by benefit of having had the discussion, the idea is being "normalized" and destigmatized). And it is always good when your opposition skews to the older end of the electorate. With each new election, bad votes fall off the end of the conveyor belt and good votes enter on the other end. Throw in the likely increase in youth voting in a presidential year, and 2012 might be good news for those crazy hippies. At least until they all end up in federal prison...

Posted by: Anon | Nov 15, 2010 10:49:55 AM

The drugs made by pharmacuetical companies are far more deadly, or dangerous, or addictive. Alcohol is glorified, though the country is plagued by alcoholics. Alcohol related incidents are far more indecent, vulgar, or even violent. The world is a scary place these days. Everyone should just chill and smoke a fat one. No more Prozac or Oxycontin. And if you have to blame something on the alcohol, then you definitely just demoralized yourself the night before.

Posted by: Lucy | Nov 29, 2010 8:38:34 PM

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