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November 3, 2010

Up In Smoke? Burnt Out? Baked? Why Proposition 19 Failed to Pass

Now, that's an understatement
November 2, 2010 was not a good day for proponents of marijuana legalization. Initiatives to allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes were voted down in South Dakota, Oregon, and probably Arizona.   After decriminalizing possession of up to an ounce in the last election and making headway for their own legalization vote, only two Massachusetts districts voted “yes” on a non-binding ballot question asking whether their elected officials should support legislation efforts.  And the grand-daddy of them all, the marijuana legalization effort in California, Proposition 19, which received global attention due to the fact that it would have made California the first state to legalize the recreational use, possession and cultivation of cannabis for those 21 and up, was voted down.   Furthermore, in real kick-em-when-their-down fashion, cities around California managed to win approval for plans to tax the sale of medical marijuana.  The White House Drug Policy Director, Gil Kerlikowske, issued a statement saying,"Today, Californians recognized that legalizing marijuana will not make our citizens healthier, solve California's budget crisis, or reduce drug related violence in Mexico," but is that really the reason California's legalization initiative was voted down?

The fact that Proposition 19 lost in California's infamous marijuana-growing region known as the "Emerald Triangle" of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties, leads to the conclusion, as discussed in an earlier FugginSuggin article,  that the reason for the initiative's failure is due to the fact that many in the current medical marijuana industry feared the profitable system they have created would be taken over by corporations or lose its purpose because of government regulation.  Discourse with "Yes to Prop 19" campaigners led to the consensus that many supporters of marijuana legalization, including growers, dispensary owners, and the every day pot smoker, feared the increased government control, regulation, and taxation powers over the existing medical marijuana industry. They feared that Prop 19 would ultimately lead to the survival of only expansive corporate powers, as only they could afford to thrive in the proposed post-Prop 19 arena. Therefore, in reality, Prop 19 did not pass for a legitimate and hopefully progressive reason -- the inherent and pervasive distrust of our government, due especially to the "survival of the wealthiest" nature of our capitalist society.

Maybe the failure of Prop 19 also had something to do with the consistent low turnout of young Americans on election day.  I totally understand that as the U.S. political system (+ voting system, justice system, economic policies, etc. etc.) is frustrating, disheartening, and contrary to common sense in many ways, especially to younger Americans that cannot get past their view of voting as futile and pointless.  Also, older voters have been sufficiently propagandized into thinking that marijuana is a "gateway" drug, and smoking marijuana makes you a giggling, hallucinating idiot.  

One of the many signs of the Rally To Support Sanity/Fear
Hopefully, those funding the next wave of legalization efforts will put more effort into campaigns to eliminate the Reefer Madness-type stigma's that are far too often related to pot.  The effects of using pot are minimal compared to over-indulgence in alcoholic beverages or prescription medications.  Furthermore, if anything is a "gateway drug," lowering inhibitions and leading people to the use of harder drugs, it's alcohol.  Think about it.  Personally, I drank alcohol before I ever smoked a cigarette or marijuana.  Hell, I toked one, legally of course, just before shelling out this post, and I think this article is pretty decent.  Regardless of the outcome, it was a close vote, and a great step in the legalization effort.