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January 3, 2011

"Will Pot Be Legal By The End Of This Decade?"

The interesting question in the title of this post comes from the headline of this new piece at The Crime Report authored by Stephen Gutwillig, who is California director of the Drug Policy Alliance (which is a national advocacy group that was a big supporter of California's marijuana legalization inititive.  Here are excerpts from the piece:

Easily the most-watched initiative on the 2010 ballot nationwide, Prop. 19 drew 46.5 percent of the vote, a new record for marijuana legalization.  Attracting more than 4.6 million votes, it easily out-polled California’s ill-fated zillionaire Gubernatorial and Senate candidates, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, with a tiny fraction of their extraordinary war chests.

In the wake of the vote, national marijuana reform advocates were immediately heartened, if not emboldened, by the prospects for ending decades of failed, punitive prohibitionist policies.  That’s because Prop. 19 fared surprisingly well in the face of a truly inhospitable electoral climate.

Midterm election voters traditionally skew older and more conservative than the much larger electorate that can be expected to vote in a Presidential election. While there had been hopes that a surge of younger reform-minded voters would defy conventional wisdom, the Prop. 19 campaign didn’t have nearly enough advertising dollars to shift entrenched voting patterns in a state as large as California.

In the face of these structural obstacles, the record-setting 46.5 percent flouted the expectations of most sophisticated political observers in the state.  What’s more, recent polling indicates just how close the marijuana reform issue is to widespread success....[and] Newsweek found that a commanding 70 percent of voters under 30 nationally would support a Prop. 19-style reform in their state.

Even in defeat, Proposition 19 legitimized marijuana legalization as a serious, mainstream political issue. The international media coverage was intense, informed and incessant.  What’s more, last year’s campaign served as a national template for building a new reform coalition that included prominent civil rights organizations and labor unions calling for an end to these wasteful, ineffective policies that also disproportionately target African Americans and Latinos.

As a result, a flurry of marijuana legalization initiatives is already on the drawing board in a number of states, primarily in the West, with an eye toward 2012.  Californians, in particular, are likely to get another crack at ending marijuana prohibition in the nation’s most populous state.  Research on voter attitudes and fundraising will determine just how many initiatives will actually make it to the ballot.

Nevertheless, expect to see marijuana reform efforts bubbling up across the country every two years for some time to come. Prop. 19 has created unprecedented momentum as we enter this new decade.

January 3, 2011 at 05:07 PM | Permalink


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Will pot be legal by the end of the decade? My best guess is - Yes.

Posted by: beth | Jan 4, 2011 10:38:05 AM

I hope that they take seriously some of the criticism they received on the drafting of the amendment. Several prominent legalization advocates opposed the amendment because of its final wording. There were pretty serious questions about implementation, etc. that could be easily overcome and which might very well put them over the top.

Posted by: Ala JD | Jan 4, 2011 11:24:53 AM

Yes, just a matter of time.

Posted by: anon | Jan 4, 2011 12:49:31 PM

The great thing about legalization advocates is that when they win they win, and when they lose they win.

Far out! Maybe they're smoking somethin'.

P.S. This is soooooooo reminiscent of death penalty abolitionists in the 60's, who proclaimed that the DP would be gone; it was only a matter of time.

And they were right -- for a while.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 5, 2011 8:38:42 AM

I am optimistic that some number of drugs will be legalize and regulated. With the medical efficiency they can contribute no wonder they can part of the prescription. I just hope that this will not be abused and government should play their part to regulate it.

Posted by: Pot | Apr 14, 2011 8:55:58 AM

All we can do is hope that the government would be pressure by pharmaceutical company to keep this herb illegal. As long as it is for medical purposes I am all for it. It should be highly regulated.

Posted by: Brenda Soona | Jun 30, 2011 12:06:22 PM

The tax revenue that will be accrued from legalizing marijuana will be a huge boost to western governments such as the US and UK. This coupled with the law enforcement budget savings makes a compelling case.

Posted by: Kronic | Oct 22, 2011 11:24:49 AM

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