Proposition 19 is making Californians nervous. The proponents for the ballot proposition to legalize marijuana for personal use in California have used every argument imaginable to make Prop 19 nonthreatening to California voters. But as Election Day draws near not even a last minute $1 million donation from George Soros may help to close the deal for voters.
Proponents say legalizing pot will drive out the drug dealers and create a tax producing market for what is now being sold anyway under the table. They compare it to ending prohibition.
Opponents including US Attorney General Holder say just because California might vote for this ballot measure won’t make pot legal under US laws. Others say we are just legitimizing unhealthy behavior and being hypocritical when California spends so much money and effort to ban smoking cigarettes for health reasons.
Ironically, some of the loudest opponents of Proposition 19 are the marijuana growers themselves who fear that the price of their products will drop and competition will expand. Nowhere is this view more widely held than in far Northern California where the place may as well be called MaryJane County instead of Humboldt County because ideal growing conditions, its rural location and easy access to I-5 make it a pot paradise.
Marijuana seizures in California have more than tripled since 2005 to record levels. But drug enforcement agents admit they are seizing only a fraction of the drug grown in the State. In fact there are so many growers and it is so easy to buy pot already in California that the market is saturated and growers and dealers are exporting increasing larger quantities anyway possible.
This information is having an effect on public attitudes and undercutting what had been the biggest attraction to the ballot measure—proponents say Prop 19 would cut the legs out from under gangs who use pot sales to fund their gang activities across California.
That George Soros would write an op-ed in the Wall Street journal and give a million dollars to make a last minute pitch for voter support for Prop 19 suggests the pollsters are right that the public is losing faith in the wisdom of legalizing pot and more likely than not to vote no.
And then there is the other ugly reality. Pot is virtually legal in California already because of medicinal marijuana clinics. The more they have sprouted in city neighborhoods the more problems the police and neighbors have discovered as unintended consequences. While not unlike the problems that bars and other establishments might cause—the reality has been that medical marijuana has been a ruse to allow some to buy pot legally only to turn around and sell it illegally on the street to get money for their other drug habits.
The truth is reducing demand is the only sure cure for drug problems in America but we are unwilling and unable to do that so we are forced to live with the ugly consequences.