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November 4, 2010

Why pot legalization fans are likely to try again in 2012

This new piece from the Los Angeles Times, which is headlined "Despite rejecting Prop. 19, Californians lean toward legalizing marijuana, poll finds," highlights why the marijuana legalization debate is not likely to stop in California anytime soon. Here is how the piece begins:

California voters rejected Prop. 19, but a post-election poll found that they still lean toward legalizing marijuana for recreational use and, if young voters had turned out as heavily on Tuesday as they do for presidential elections, the result would have been a close call.

The survey, conducted by the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, suggests that California voters had qualms with this initiative, but remain open to the idea. A majority, 52%, said marijuana laws, like alcohol prohibition, do more harm than good.

“There’s a fair amount of latent support for legalization in California,” said Anna Greenberg, the firm’s senior vice president. “It is our view, looking at this research, that if indeed legalization goes on ballot in 2012 in California, that it is poised to win.”

Voters think marijuana should be legalized, 49% to 41%, with 10% uncertain, the poll found, but were evenly split over whether they thought it was inevitable in California.

“The question about legalizing marijuana is no longer when, it’s no longer whether, it’s how,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “There’s a really strong body of people who will be ready to pull the lever in the future.

November 4, 2010 at 06:36 PM | Permalink


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There were four pro-pot measures on the ballot last Tuesday, in California, Oregon, South Dakota and Arizona.

Despite optimistic projections not all that long ago, some of them right here, all four lost.

This does not change the rhetoric of the pro-pot forces one little bit. And now, not 48 hours after the polls closed, they pull the amazing manuever of trying, for PR purposes, to nullify actual voting with simulated voting -- i.e., with this poll.

This got me to thinking: Who decided to do this poll, and who paid for it?

The answer is found one paragraph below the excerpt shown here. That paragraph states, "The poll was paid for by Peter B. Lewis, a retired insurance company executive. Lewis donated $159,005 to the Drug Policy Alliance’s campaign for Proposition 19 and was one of the backers of California’s 1996 medical marijuana initiative."

Lan' sakes alive! Dissatisfied with the electorate's judgment, pot backers buy their own, private do-over and announce a contrary result.

Far out. I love it. Maybe the RNC can pay for a private poll in Nevada and beat Harry Reid after all.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 4, 2010 7:07:51 PM

Bill why is it that you cannot face the fact that one day be marijuana will be legal? The Marijuana initiatives are just beginning. So congratulations on your side winning... This Time!

Posted by: Anon | Nov 4, 2010 10:17:18 PM

Walter Olson, at the Cato Institute, notes the increased hassles for employers as a factor for its failure to pass.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 4, 2010 11:35:58 PM

Ten years ago Prop 19 would not have been on a ballot. It was an initiative fraught with problems and risks, and many marijuana legalization activists worried about the implementation were it to pass. Of course the effort to end marijuana prohibition will continue, and it has the demographic on it's side.

Posted by: beth | Nov 5, 2010 1:23:52 AM

Anon --

"Bill why is it that you cannot face the fact that one day be marijuana will be legal?"

A wise man once said, "There are no facts about the future."

As I was mentioning to you the other day, abolitionists in the 60's were saying about the death penalty exactly the same thing you're saying about marijuana prohibition, and with equal certainty.

Were they right?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 5, 2010 9:42:38 AM

beth --

The thing about the young demographic is that, in a few years, it becomes the middle age demographic, at which point its opinions change. The middle aged voters who defeated legalization this week were, not so long ago, the younger voters who supported it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 5, 2010 9:46:45 AM

Not all States have the death penalty so are the abolitionists wrong? Marijuana in my opinion made great strides this week in a losing effort. As we all know social change does not happen over night.

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2010 12:55:11 PM

anon --

"Not all States have the death penalty so are the abolitionists wrong?"

Yes. When one says that the death penalty will be "abolished," and instead of disappearing the number of executions increases, they were wrong. "Abolished" has a meaning not subject to change via PR. It means, "Doesn't exist anymore."

"Marijuana in my opinion made great strides this week in a losing effort."

Well, you're entitled to your opinion. It doesn't change the election results, which were uniformly adverse to legalization.

"As we all know social change does not happen over night."

Nailed it there. Although the DP was re-instated as a permissible punishment in 1976, executions did not get underway in significant numbers until more than ten years later.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 5, 2010 3:32:48 PM

Anon --

I wrote earlier that there are no facts about the future. As an illustration, I bring you this April 2009 piece by the respected, nonpartisan political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, assessing Republican claims that they might be able to get a majority in the House. I'll just leave it at that.


Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 5, 2010 7:23:51 PM

As per the LA Times on 4 November the bodies of the 20 men kidnapped on 30 September in Acapulco were found in a mass grave as the result of a YouTube video depicting 2 of the men bound and beaten apparently falsely confessing to killing the men but accurately giving the location of the grave.


A YouTube video???? AQ would be proud. Isn't it amazing how the tactics of 4G war can spread so quickly around the globe.

Posted by: Fred | Nov 5, 2010 10:32:49 PM

California may not have "legalized" marijuana, but their Legislature this year made user-level possession a ticket-only offense with a max fine of $100. So it's all but been decriminalized, the only differences from "legalization" being that, for non-medical uses, the government cannot tax revenues and profits remain in the hands of murderous drug cartels instead of going to legitimate American growers. Big victory for law and order, that.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Nov 6, 2010 7:42:40 AM

"if young voters had turned out as heavily on Tuesday as they do for presidential elections, the result would have been a close call."

In other news, the result might have been closer had less people been off getting stoned...=)

-Law Student

Posted by: Scott | Nov 7, 2010 3:57:06 PM

This is probably silly, but I now hear, 11 days after the election, that the Arizona medical pot referendum has pulled ahead. One must think it's likely to win. So pot failed in "only" three of the four states where it was on the ballot, and not, as I said (correctly at the time but not now) all four.

Congratulations, I guess, to Arizonans on their new "medicine." It is, if nothing else, groovy.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 13, 2010 11:40:14 PM

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