Election day is always exciting for me, even when my candidates or ballot measures lose. It’s democracy in action like nowhere else on earth. Even though I very strongly disagree with his policy positions, it was still kind of exciting to see Barrack Obama elected in 2008 – we elected our first black president and we saw the power of citizens.
California’s Prop 19, to fully legalize marijuana, didn’t pass. Latest results have it at 46.5% Yes to 53.6% No. Much of the news media are touting this as much more of a defeat than it really is though.
Think back perhaps 10 or 20 years. Would there have even been 20% support for such a measure? My guess is that pot will be decriminalized in California within 4 years. The war on it has simply proven too costly for too little benefit.
For the pro-legalization crowd there may even be a very substantial silver lining in this defeat. If this had passed it would have made California the only place in all of North America where pot could be legally purchased. Similar to what happened in The Netherlands, potheads would have flocked to California to experience smoking pot legally.
It’s one thing for the local populace to smoke it legally, it’s another to have an influx of potheads*.
There will very likely be several additional states joining California with legalization propositions on their ballots in 2012 and 2014. My guess is that California will still be the first, but a handful of others will follow two and four years later.
Just having a proposition like this on the ballot in all of these states will send a message to law enforcement and the judiciary that criminalizing pot is far from universally supported. Having 45% of the citizenry say so in an election sends an even stronger message. This, together with states legalizing medical marijuana, will ease enforcement efforts in these states, and thus, help reduce pot tourism to California.
* Potheads are generally not a problematic bunch. Just compare the crowds in a pot selling coffeeshop in Amsterdam to those in a bar, there or in the U.S. I’ll take the potheads any day.
Amsterdam is, even with their high pot and prostitution tourism, mostly U.S. folk, united in saying that they do not want to again criminalize these vices. They do not want the problems we have with prohibitions. However, as I discussed here, some of the border cities, such as Maastricht, are limiting sales to citizens only.