Wednesday, November 3, 2010

3.9 percent

Every major newspaper and every major political candidate in the state of California openly opposed it. Youth turnout was nothing special. We still were only 3.9 percent away from passing prop 19! Next time I am out gathering signatures I will tell that to every person who laughs saying we don't have a chance. Considering few thought it would get on the ballot when I went to my first meeting last fall I am reasonably happy with how things went. Although not nearly as happy as I would have been with the extra 3.9 percent.

Voters under 40 supported it, voters along a line of counties from Oakland to Santa Barbara supported it. We lost Southern California though, albeit by slim margins. Of course inland areas mostly voted against it. The real problem is the over 65 crowd which opposed it by 3 to 1. Since they love to vote, this was a real problem. Still, it has gone from being parents who are the primary opposition to grandparents. A few more years of baby boomers retiring and I can't imagine we won't pull this off.

If a 2012 campaign happens I would leave most of the bill the same. One ounce in possession by anyone 21 and over, and twenty five square feet of production are both reasonable goals for legalization state wide. As is the often criticized plan to let individual counties ban sales and production. Once again, they should not touch any prop 215 laws and make the wording as explicit as possible(a lot of misinformation was spread about this during the campaign). Two big changes need to happen, one to make the hard core supporters happy, one to make businesses happy:

First, there was some very serious jail time given in prop 19 for anyone who provided someone under 21 with marijuana. Now that the state decriminalized marijuana I believe these penalties are higher than you would currently face. Tone it down a little bit. Several years of jail time should only be a threat if you are driving under the influence, performing an important public safety job while high, or were feeding it to unknowing neighborhood children; Otherwise the worst penalty for anything marijuana related should be a misdemeanor and a fine. It may actually be best to side-step the issue entirely, and just make any future ballot measure not change these laws, letting the legislature set whatever it feels is best. This would make supporters of legalization more comfortable voting for it.

Next, remove all restrictions on businesses that want to continue behaving in the way they currently are. Yes it is possible to set off a marijuana drug test a month after use, and it is unfair if a business fires someone who wasn't high at work as a result of this test. Still, save the fight for another day. Don't fight big business at the same time as you are fighting the Federal Government. Most of the anti-prop 19 campaign donations seemed to be groups concerned about this so changing it should be worth the 4% needed to pass in 2012.

An alternate plan would be to do nothing but legalize home growing 25 square feet, and possession outside of your residence of 1 ounce. Don't legalize sales at all. You lose the taxation argument for the proposition, but you just might get rid of a lot of the votes against. Also, there is no way in hell the DEA can chase down a that low level type of drug crime. They have so few agents all they can do is go after the big fish if CA legalizes.

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