CA Prop. 19 defeated

The hotly-debated California Proposition 19 was not passed on November 2nd by a 53.9% ‘No’ vote. Contrary to popular belief, the legalization of marijuana is not a new topic. It dates back as far as 1972, when Californians first voted on a similar measure, coincidentally called Proposition 19. Only in recent years has the issue popped up on other state’s agendas. In the 2010 election alone, four states, including California, voted on some form of a marijuana initiative, however, none of them passed.

Regardless of how long the process of marijuana legalization is taking, it seems to be gaining more and more support among constituents. The ‘No’ votes do not represent a large majority opinion anymore; the results are more moderately divided. In fact, Arizona’s Proposition 203, a medical marijuana measure, was narrowly defeated with a 50.14% ‘No’ vote. Additionally, Oregon’s Measure 74 received only a 57.1% ‘No’ vote. These opposition numbers are down from previous years when similar marijuana measures were on the ballot. If the trend continues and opposition votes continue to decline, it will be only a year or two more until a pro-marijuana initiative passes at the ballot box.

However, the passage of a state measure like “Prop 19” would not be the end-all for the controversy over marijuana’s legalization. There are federal laws in place such as the Controlled Substance Act which trumps any state law. It is not known how much the federal government would regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana in states that declare it legal, or if the law would be challenged by a federal court. Proponents of legalization are trying to bolster their case by saying that passage of such a measure would reduce drug trafficking into the United States from Mexico, where drug cartels are violent and dangerous. This would improve both Mexico’s and the United States’ safety and economy.  Additionally, police forces could be redirected to more serious and violent crimes rather than cracking down on illegal marijuana-use.

Many Californians at Puget Sound were disappointed the measure did not pass. Several commented that the measure was not drafted well. “Proposition 19 was not written very clearly and I think many voters were holding off to vote for it until the language was improved,” senior Mikayla Hafner said.  However, Mikayla is unsure if a similar law will pass in the future due to the federal “preemption” laws which exist to trump state law. “It would be a good idea to decriminalize the possession of marijuana because there are other crimes which Californians’ tax dollars could be spent on,”Mikayla added.