Why Did Proposition 19 Fail?

This morning a friend of mine in California, a card-carrying medicinal user, told me she wasn’t surprised to hear the returns. “Too many people have too much money invested in the pot culture to make it legal,” she said. Passing Proposition 19 in California would have allowed people over 21 to carry up to an ounce of marijuana without threat of arrest, and would have allowed consumption in non-public places (home, etc.) where no children are present. It also would have permitted users to maintain private growing plots without risking seizure.

That said, I found my friend’s remarks curious. She didn’t specify if her friends grew cannabis strictly for private use or if they distributed weed – for sale or free – but it led me to wonder if marijuana users voted against the measure to protect their own interests. Thanks to Governor Schwarzenegger, possession isn’t as heinous a crime in California as it once was, so perhaps some people are okay with the risk of getting since only a fine and no jail time is attached. Still, I think about these people my friend mentioned – do they worry about whether or not legalization will force them into paying heavy taxes, or to obtain business licenses, and incur debts as a result? Do they oppose the part of the measure that would have allowed people to grow their own weed, thereby eliminating the need for the cannabis they cultivate?

I think as long as marijuana remains illegal, the stigma remains and grows stronger with each campaign toward total decriminalization. Opponents, naturally, are going to preach that the second cannabis can be bought at Target everybody’s going to run out and get wasted. I look at it this way: you can do the same thing by going to a liquor store, which is legal.

The point of such proposed measures, like the ones also shot down in Oregon and South Dakota yesterday, is to assist those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes to do so without this stigma, and to allow law enforcement to concentrate on bigger problems than the hipster in his apartment toking up while watching television. Had Prop 19 passed in California, would the world have ended? Would people have gone crying into the streets, mourning the decline of civilization? I don’t think so – it would have been business as usual. With the measure failed, people who smoke weed will still do so, and people who don’t will not. People suffering symptoms related to various illnesses, however, may reconsider using cannabis to relieve pain for fear of ridicule or losing a job or getting caught. I’m saddened to think that.

I’ve also read some have maintained the proposition was poorly worded to begin with. Well, there’s always another election nigh. What else can California activists do now, but regroup and try again. Here’s hoping those on both sides of the issue can come to a reasonable agreement.

Bobbie Carson writes about marijuana culture and Mary Jane girls.

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