California: Prop. 19 Defeated, Local Marijuana Tax Measures Approved, Harris Declares Victory In Attorney General Race

Oakland, CA: California voters decided 46 percent to 54 percent against Proposition 19, which sought to legalize the adult possession of limited quantities of marijuana in private, and to allow for local governments to regulate its commercial production and retail distribution. Overall, more than 3.4 million Californians voted for the measure.

With 46 percent, the Prop. 19 received the greatest percentage of citizen support ever recorded on a statewide marijuana legalization effort.

Commenting on the result, NORML Director Paul Armentano said: “In just a few short months, this campaign moved public opinion forward nationally, and led to the signing of historic legislation in California that will end the arrest and prosecution of tens of thousands of minor marijuana offenders. Despite last night’s disappointing outcome, we have momentum and an unparalleled coalition of supporters – from law enforcement personnel, to civil rights groups, to organized labor, to lawyers, clergy, and public health professionals.”

He concluded: “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 be legalize and regulate marijuana,’ but ‘How should we legalize and regulate marijuana?’ Legalizing the adult use of marijuana in a regulated manner is no longer a matter of ‘if;’ it is a matter of ‘when.'”

Proponents of the statewide measure have already announced plans to move forward with a similar initiative in 2012.

Municipal voters in nine cities unanimously approved citywide ordinances in Albany (Measure Q), Berkeley (Measure S), La Puente (Prop. M), Oakland (Measure V), Rancho Cordova (Measure O), Richmond, Sacramento (Measure C), San Jose (Measure U), Stockton (Measure I) to impose new taxes on medical marijuana sales and/or production and businesses licenses. California NORML, along with several other reform groups, specifically opposed the Rancho Cordova measure as an excessive penalty on medical cannabis growers. Groups were divided in their support of other local proposals.

Voters in Berkeley also approved a separate ordinance (Measure T) to permit a fourth medical marijuana dispensary in the city and reconstitute the city’s Medical Marijuana Commission Voters in Morro Bay and Santa Barbara rejected proposed municipal bans on dispensaries.

In the state’s extremely closely contested race for Attorney General, Democrat Kamala Harris has declared victory over Republican challenger Steven Cooley. With 100 precincts reported, Harris leads Cooley by less than one-half of one percent.

Cooley was opposed by many marijuana reform organizations, for his public opposition to medical marijuana, and his contention that any retail sale of medical cannabis is in violation of state law.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500, or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: