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Backers of legalizing marijuana in California are counting on support from young voters

November 1, 2010 |  6:15 pm

Recent polls have shown support for Proposition 19 slipping. Backers of the measure that would legalize marijuana in California are counting on young voters for success.

 But that could be a problem. On the eve of Tuesday’s election, a noon rally on the UC Berkeley campus -– just three BART stops north of the Yes on 19 headquarters -- was a decidedly low-key affair.

 A dozen demonstrators waved signs in support of the measure. A young blonde in tie-dye tossed a “Yes on 19” frisbee in the autumn sunshine. A half-dozen journalists looked on. And scores of students wandered by, unmoved.

 “Every single person here has to make a commitment,” begged Kat Murti, Bay Area regional director for the Yes campaign, her multicolored dreadlocks swinging. “For the last 73 years, cannabis has been an illegal substance.... Everyone here knows someone who uses cannabis!”

 Vote, she said, so jobs will be created. Vote, she said, so cops can spend their time chasing murderers and rapists instead of nonviolent smokers who enjoy a little weed. Vote, she said, just vote.

 Across Sproul Plaza, Zainab Hossainzadeh was unimpressed by both the issue and the demonstration. Sitting at the Muslim Student Assn. table and reading Studs Terkel for class, the 19-year-old sophomore said she does vote but hadn’t thought much about how she’d cast her ballot this time.

 She watched the pot proponents saunter up to the microphone and beg for votes. She listened to speakers’ claims: “Cannabis seeds are a great food, high in Omega 3 fatty acids!” She shook her head at the sign-waving rally and smiled.

 “It is very small,” she said. “Especially for Berkeley.”

 -- Maria L. LaGanga in Berkeley