It’s Not A Matter of ‘Should We Legalize Marijuana’ — It’s A Matter of ‘How We Legalize’

Following Tuesday night’s defeat of Prop. 19, I made the following statement to the press:

“Throughout this campaign, even our opponents conceded that America’s present marijuana prohibition is a failure. They recognize that the question now isn’t ‘Should we legalize and regulate marijuana,’ but ‘How should we legalize and regulate marijuana?’

A just-released, comprehensive post-election poll of California voters strongly supports this sentiment, and further points towards the likelihood of passing a successful marijuana regulation measure in 2012.

Among some of the polls findings:

* Fifty percent of California voters, regardless of how they voted on Prop. 19, “think the use of marijuana should be made legal.”

* Further, of those voters who rejected Prop. 19, more than 30 percent believe that “marijuana should be legalized or penalties … should be reduced.”

* A majority of Californian voters (52 percent to 37 percent) believe “laws against marijuana do more harm than good.”

* Finally, the poll reaffirms that victory at the ballot box comes down most of all to voter turnout. The survey reports, “If youth had comprised the same percentage of the electorate on Tuesday as they do in Presidential election years, Prop. 19 would have been statistically tied.”

You can read more here:

Despite rejecting Prop. 19, Californians lean toward legalizing marijuana, poll finds
Via The Los Angeles Times

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.”

The poll also found that a quarter of those who voted on Proposition 19 had considered voting the other way, suggesting that a different initiative or a different campaign could change the result.

“We have fluidity,” Greenberg said. “The issue does not have the kind of hard and fast kind of polarization that we’ve seen with other so-called moral or social issues.”

Among voters who opposed Prop. 19, 31% said they believe marijuana should be legalized or penalties reduced, but they objected to the some specifics of the initiative.

The poll did not probe what it was about the measure that did not appeal to these voters. “Among the no votes, we’re seeing a significant proportion who we believe will ultimately support marijuana legalization in the future,” Nadelmann said.

Prop. 19 would have allowed adults 21 and older to grow up to 25 square feet of marijuana or possess up to an ounce. But it also included a provision to protect marijuana users from discrimination that opponents, including the Chamber of Commerce, ridiculed. They claimed it would allow nurses and bus drivers to come to work stoned, which the campaign disputed.

The poll found some evidence that this issue may have cut into the initiative’s support. Voters said by 50% to 44% that employers should have the right to fire workers who test positive for marijuana even if they arrive sober and ready to work.

The initiative was the brainchild of Richard Lee, a medical marijuana businessman in Oakland who paid professionals to draft the measure and made the key decisions on its approach.

Lee chose to give cities and counties the power to approve marijuana sales, not the state Legislature, a system that would allow a patchwork approach much like medical marijuana. The poll suggested that voters prefer that local control approach, finding that 44% trust city and county governments more to control marijuana, while 38% trust state government more.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner surveyed 796 voters who participated in the election by phone between Oct. 31 and Nov. 2. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

In short, the key now isn’t to convince voters that marijuana prohibition is a failure, but to find a consensus among voters regarding what is the best alternative.

65 thoughts

  1. From what I heard about the Prop 19 defeat, there were a lot of people for legalization but not this way. They claimed it was too vague and only put the onus on cities and counties to figure out how to regulate and tax it. I have an idea: Why don’t we take all the laws regulating alcohol and simply replace it with cannabis/marijuana? Why do we need to treat pot any different? If we really want to regulate and tax it like alcohol, let’s use the same laws and structures.

  2. Cali went too far with employers not able to fire. We all know there is no fair way to know if you are stoned or not with a urine test. So why include that in Prop 19, it may have been the single thing that killed the bill. Really the guy that drafted the bill may have had his own personal interest in mind.

    1. Let us smoke in private. (In respect to others)

    2. Let us grow it on our own property out of site. (Keep it concealed) Weed is like loud music, people feel very uncomfortable when they see it or smell it- until society changes its views on cannibis, keep it private. Compromise!!!
    A. I agree with 25 square feet, but I think a certain number of plants like 6 big ones, and 12 seedlings. Sensible rotatation.
    B. Outdoor grow must be concealed in residental neighborhoods and close communities.

    3. Limit the number of Commercial Growers. Tax them not the people.
    A. Must be Medical Grade and tested for fungus, bacteria, strenth, and pesticides.

    The State of Cali can pass a bill in 2011. If we keep it private, secure, and responsible. And leave employers alone!!! The worst feeling is not knowing? Don’t consume if your employer test!!!!!

  3. Cali went too far with employers not able to fire. We all know there is no fair way to know if you are stoned or not with a urine test. So why include that in Prop 19, it may have been the single thing that killed the bill. Really the guy that drafted the bill may have had his own personal interest in mind.

    1. Let us smoke in private. (In respect to others)

    2. Let us grow it on our own property out of site. (Keep it concealed) Weed is like loud music, people feel very uncomfortable when they see it or smell it- until society changes its views on cannibis, keep it private. Compromise!!!
    A. I agree with 25 square feet, but I think a certain number of plants like 6 big ones, and 12 seedlings. Sensible rotatation.
    B. Outdoor grow must be concealed in residental neighborhoods and close communities.

    3. Limit the number of Commercial Growers. Tax them not the people.
    A. Must be Medical Grade and tested for fungus, bacteria, strenth, and pesticides.

    The State of Cali can pass a bill in 2011. If we keep it private, secure, and responsible. And leave employers alone!!! The worst feeling is not knowing? Don’t consume if your employer test!!!!!

  4. Yup, J.R. and under federal law the individual may produce up to 200 gallons of beer and or wine per year and that same individual may grow up to 1/10 of an acre of tobacco for personal use per year and it’s all untaxed. If it were to be sold on the retail market put a small excise tax, state and federal and the local sales tax nothing more,nothing less if it’s for personal use no tax. No sales to minors,no freebies to minors. Same laws as alcohol and tobacco.
    Before anybody calls me a traitor or something, I’ve done a year with Uncle Scam for medicinal pot not as much time as some,but let me tell you at my age it was no fun.

  5. As king of the loopholes, here’s a thought :

    Instead of trying to fully legalize it, which will cause Federal interference…just write a law reducing the penalty for possession of marijuana of under an ounce (or even a higher amount like 5 ounces) to a mere $1. This way it is still technically illegal satisifing the feds but everyone can enjoy it without fear of going to jail.

    Once these type of law take hold and people see there is nothing to fear, the government will have no chice but to take it to a Class 3 drug and then full legalization can happen.

    [Editor’s note: FYI…Denver voters passed a $1 fine for an ounce a few years ago…the result…local police and the mayor (who is now going to be governor) ignored the will of the voters and charge ‘offenders’ under state, not city laws.

    Ugh.]

  6. Q. what does legalization mean to me ??

    A.;
    #1. an ADMISSION that the LIES were just lies.
    and an apology for the lies.
    and a promise they will never again be told by ANY gov’t. agency. (not that i would believe it, but just to get it on the official record)
    #2. SET MY PEOPLE FREE !! release all pot prisoners from jail / probation / forced treatment, and their criminal records cleaned.
    #3. TOTALLY REMOVE POT FROM THE ‘SCHEDULE’ SYSTEM;
    not schedule 2, or 3, or 4, or 5. alcohol is not scheduled, nor is tobacco, so pot has no buisness being on there, either.
    #4. MUST specifically include industrial hemp.
    #5. i can; (or ANY ADULT can)
    grow AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    smoke, (or eat), AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    buy, AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    sell, AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    share, AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    possess AS MUCH AS I WANT,
    for recreational / medical / religious use,
    -with NO PENALTY, and no fear of search and seizure or arrest.
    (SALES tax for commercial buisness should be no more than on any other LEGAL product, NO TAX on homegrown or medical. -though i personally think it should ALL be tax free, given that we have overpaid so much for so long. -1,000% or more in $$, plus fear of arrest)

    under LEGALIZATION, ALL POT MUST BE 100% LEGAL !!

    if it is illegal AT ALL, IN ANY WAY, it is not truly LEGAL.

    example; if it is legal under one ounce, BUT illegal over one ounce, that makes SOME POT LEGAL, AND SOME POT ILLEGAL,
    -and the PIGS will STILL have EVERY legal right to stop you, to search you, and to determine WHICH ONE YOU HAVE.

    just like legal medical mj. did not stop all arrests and searches, just because SOME pot was legal.

    the PIGS will NOT give you the PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE, -only the PRESUMPTION OF GUILT.
    (presumption of innocence -supposedly- happens in COURT, but nobody is pretending it happens on the STREET)

    when alcohol went from illegal to legal, it was not ‘decriminalized’ in ‘baby steps’, with very low limits, it was INSTANTLY 100% LEGAL.

    and the EXISTING LAW WAS COMPLETELY INVALIDATED,
    -NOT LEFT IN FORCE, with some ‘exemption’ or a ‘work-around’, COMPLETELY INVALIDATED !!

    that’s EXACTLY what we need to shoot for.

  7. I THINK I’ll Just move up to the EMERALD TRIANGLE where they don’t enforce prohibition ! Then I can just vote no on legalization efforts, so I can become a greedy rich PIG ,like others do !

  8. **Voters said by 50% to 44% that employers should have the right to fire workers who test positive for marijuana even if they arrive sober and ready to work.”

    Wow! That strange Nazi attitude is scary. Work needs to be done to change the sheeple’s opinions on that subject. Since when does handing over your “rights” become normal? Maybe there’s a lot more work to do than we think.

  9. Paul, thank you for your confident tone. It’s great to read articles like this in the wake of a defeat, when I spent so many hours working on the campaign for Prop 19. I would like to disagree slightly with your article, though. At the end, you say the key is to find a consensus among voters. I think it’s to build that consensus. Prohibition has fractured pro-marijuana culture, and people who agree on basic things like “legalize it” can disagree, sometimes bitterly, about little details, like how large a plot of land one entity should be able to cultivate. We need to form up our ranks before we go forth and destroy our enemies.

  10. If I were a grower, and there a very many of them in CA, I would be against something ruining my pricing power.
    That is clearly why they all oppose in fact if not in word.
    AND: there is a point to the anti-corporatist argument. People are lazy, and one only needs to get to know the modern day typical stoner.
    Most of them are couch-lock types, pot-as-wallpaper accompaniement-to-something-else-I’m-doing types.
    Any Phillip Morris grown crap-weed will suffice for that purpose (indica people)
    This will reduce the demand and then supply of real-high weed, that the minority of people who can truly appreciate it want (sativa people).

    And the only alternative to the loss of the truly high-quality weed being forced out for lack of scale, is home grown. But THAT will be prohibited under legalisation/regulation. After all PM does not want that kind of competition.

    It’s already that way, or see how legally easy it is to still your own, or grow tobacco, esp. tax free.

    Only thing I support is decrim: No consequence of much import to the user/home grower/small scale selling, but NO corporate entry.
    The Dutch have proven this approach: sample the wares in NL to see, no PM/RJR to be seen.

    This is an elitist argument to be sure, but most people are sheeple, and that’s why its correct.

  11. Some thoughts:

    46% of the vote is a fairly large number, and indicates that marijuana legalization does have the initiative.

    The problem with partial decrim is that any drug related conviction can lead to loss of student financial aid, public housing, and any number of public sector jobs, including in the armed forces. So it has to be total legalization.

    You also wonder, if the government spent the effort it now spends on fighting a war on marijuana instead on dealing with major financial crimes if we would be in the recession we are in today. The war on drugs is a form of bread & circuses to keep people distracted from high end crime.

    Anyway, congrats to NORML and all the others who have spent decades fighting for cannabis freedom and let’s see this thing through to victory in 2012.

  12. Any bill meant to legalize marijuana must avoid one negative tendency that has been seen in both prop. 19 and many medical marijuana bills: turning a part of the community of stoners into a sacrificial lamb. I supported prop. 19. I am not one of the stoners against egalization but the stoners against legalization do have a point whic they may have not articulated so well. The point is that part of the community of stoners were turned into sacrificial lambs. In the case of prop. 19 it was young people from the ages of 18 – 21 who were sacrificed. In the case of all medical marijuana initiatives who specify conditions all people who have medical ailments that are not one of the approved ailments are sacrificed. Those who come with the atitude of “Ive got mine” do not realize the ugly truth: they are playing the appeasement game of Neville Chamberlin. Appeasement did not help us againt the Nazis. Why should it help against drug warriors. The reason why prop. 215 worked so well is because it did not sacrificeanybody who had a medical condition. I suffer from hypetension and I can qualify under 215 but those states whose medical marijana law specifies conditonspeople with my condition are invariably excluded; we are made into sacrificial lambs just to get some bill passed. The drug wariors are not impressed; we have done the workof chiping away at patient rights for them. The appeasers keep on appeasing and chiping away one right after another. The drug warriors dont like dispenseries so we will leave it out; we will put it in latter. Look at what happened with prop. 74 in Oregon. When will the drug warriors be satisfied and let us pass a bill; how much more do we need to sacrifice to the enemy. The enemy is playing us for fools. The answer is hat the dru warriors will not accept any medical marijuana an appeasement is simply a way they trick us into destroying ourselves. What does the failure of appeasement in the medial marijuana movementtell us? It tells us that in any future bill we must leave nobody behind; no more sacrificil lambs; no mre appeasement. Looking back on the debacle of prop. 19 I have to wonder. I am 51. The people ojecting to prop. 19 in the stoners against legalization with some exceptions like Dave Perron were froom the 18-21 year old crowd. Coul I have fallen into the “Ive got mine” trap I so objected to when I, New York voter objcted to be being made into a sacrficial lamb when people proposed a medcal marijuana bill that would allow peple with ailments other then hypertension but not hypertension to have medical marijuana. The shoe I had to wear was the same shoe that the 18-21 year old people had to wear under prop. 19. I felt that any law was better than no law but was this not the same rationalization used by those who crafted a bill that made me into a sacrificial lamb. Now it can be argued that no legalization bill would allow people 18-21 to posses legaly. There may be some logic to this but consider the situation. Lets say you are not a politically savy 1821 year old and have a medical recomendaton. You hear that prop. 19 illegalizes marijuana for you. You might think that your right to have marijuana will be taken away from you and all you have left is a promise that a few years from now you canhave it again. Would you not say hell no to that. I am talking about perception not actual facts about how 19. would effect you. But perception, not esoteric facts drives votes. What is worse is the law in prop. 19 that created a new crime of passing to a minor. Many of the 21-30 group and even older smoke with people from the under 21 crowd. Prop 19 created a disincentive for ople from that age group to vote for the measure since it rghtly or wrongly criminalized a commom smoking habit. From tis perspective prop. 19 seemed to the perception of many to recriminalize decriminalized activity not only for the 18-21 yea old group but for the 21- 30 crowd as well. This is what generated the left wing of the no vote. Now if prop. 19 is meant to appeal to the older crowd and the older growd is less likely to vote for the measure but the 18-30 crowd who does support the measure feels that i isa sacrifical lamb it it any surprise that the youth vote did not come out more strongly for prop. 19. How can a victim of appeasement support appeasement? Furthermore , aside rom those who are ideologically opposed to any taxes other tan sales tax there was the fear, realized in Ranch Cordova of back door illegaliation through taxation. The 18-21n year old crowd is an esspecially difficult situation but it was not solved by Prop. 19’s creation of the new crime of passingt minors. I o not wish to loose the votes of older people but from the position of justice it would seem that legalization, which already exists for 215 should be for those 18 and older; whether this is feasible is another question. Whtever happens there should never e the perception that rights under 215 are being taken away. The new crime of passing to minors which was meant t appeal to reactionaries who do not support legalizaton anyway was a bad idea; other means must be devised to get older voters to support our cause. In summary the ultimate conclusion must be: say no to appeasment. Stop making selected groups into sacrificial lambs for either the passage of edialmaijana or general marijuana legalization bills. Work ith 215 freedom based models not fear based models. Find some way of addressing the question of 18-21year old onsumption that does not take rights won by 215 away while protecting public safety. Develop a breathalizer test that police can use to determine impaired driving. But most of all I must say again when it comes to both medical and nonmeical legalization say no to appeasement; stop making groups of people into sacrifical lambs. Appeasement is the death of our moement. e must never become stoners for Chamberlin!

  13. I live in Maryland and last October marijuana was decriminilized in this state. Since I am currently on probation, would I still get violated if pot were to be found in my system? Thank you.

    [Paul Armentano responds: There is legislation presently pending in Maryland that would no longer make this a parole violation: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/maryland-house-approves-bill-that-excludes-marijuana-as-parole-violation/2015/03/23/c1bdfab8-d165-11e4-a62f-ee745911a4ff_story.html.%5D

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