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Prop. 19 opponents say the measure's flaws led to its defeat

The political consultants who ran the campaign against Prop. 19 said Thursday that the undecided voters who swung their way on election day were susceptible to arguments for legalizing marijuana, but were ultimately convinced the measure was flawed.

Wayne Johnson, the strategist for the No on 19 campaign, said these voters reacted negatively to "reefer madness" arguments that marijuana was inherently dangerous or was a gateway drug. And he said they were not going to be swayed simply by law enforcement opposition.

"Our best opportunity to beat it was on the merits of 19 itself," he said in a post-election teleconference with reporters. "We wanted to isolate it, make it its own issue and fight it out largely over the terms of the initiative."

Prop. 19 donors: See who gave on both sides of marijuana debate

The claim that the measure would raise billions of dollars in taxes was the most persuasive argument, Johnson said.

"There were lot of people that thought, 'Yeah, let’s tax the stuff, whether we like it or not,' " he said. But these voters were disappointed to learn there was no way to know how much would be raised. "When that went away, they went away," he said.

Prop. 19 would have left the decision on whether to allow marijuana to be sold and taxed up to cities and counties. Several analyses noted that even if marijuana were taxed statewide, the revenues would not be in the billions of dollars. The state tax board estimated the potential statewide revenue at $1.4 billion, but other studies concluded it would be less.

The initiative would have allowed adults 21 and older to grow and possess marijuana, but it also included a number of obscure provisions the opposition campaign assailed.

The No campaign said the initiative would prevent employers from firing workers who were high unless they caused an accident, a claim proponents disputed. And opponents pointed out the measure did not establish a standard, such as there is for alcohol, for driving under the influence of marijuana. The measure’s proponents countered that the police have no trouble enforcing the law now through sobriety tests. But the No on 19 campaign argued the initiative would lead to stoned school bus drivers.

"People did not believe that they would be irresponsible were Prop. 19 to pass," Johnson said, "but they were susceptible to the argument that other people might be irresponsible."

Johnson said the campaign also believes undecided voters were influenced by the cavalcade of newspaper editorials denouncing the measure.

"This was one of those races where the print media in particular was very, very important in communicating to voters," he said.

-- John Hoeffel

Comments () | Archives (8)

When can we legalize heroin, coke, meth, LSD and PCP, this way we can tax it and put the cartels out of business? Alcohol kills more people every year than all of these drugs do combined. Time to stop thinking small, lets not just legalize Pot, lets bring ALL illegal drugs to the forefront, I mean storefront! I dream of the day when I can go to WalMart and buy deoderant, dish soap, bread, a cell phone and a dime of smack, on and a syringe. YES ON 19

damn...well being a cubs fan i know what to say...theres always next election :(

As a Libertarian I favor the legalization of all drugs. I hope that Prop 19 advocates learn a few lessons and try again. Here are a few suggestions:

1 Legalize hemp, not just marijuana. Industrial hemp is the most valuable agricultural crop on the planet and it is absolutely insane that it is illegal.

2 Prop 19 was written in ways that created fear among potential backers. In the next proposition, clearly define how "under the influence" will be determined. I believe it should be from a combination of field sobriety tests and blood tests. Blood tests can now determine the blood THC content and there should be a reasonable standard stated in the law.

3 Do this at the Federal level, because as long as marijuana is classified by the Feds as a Schedule 1 drug we will get nowhere acting at the State level.

It's truly amazing that California did something right in this election.

Next time we need billboards that read:

Drug Dealers Everywhere Support Prop 19
They need your support.

We need to hit them with the same fear that the media, government, and their parents have been feeding them for years.

Let's redirect their fear to the drug dealers and cartels, real fears we can all be afraid of.

End the prohibition and the expensive cost to keep it in place, legalize all naturally extracted drugs.

I believe that PROP 19 failed because it was lacking the organization to inform potential swing voters. According to some polls close to two-thirds of all republicans were opposed to repeal of prohibition. If proponents of legalization had been able to convey the message of true conservative principles of William F Buckley to the Republicans opposed to PROP 19, then they would have very likely been swayed into voting YES due to the fact that they would have put their emotions aside and exercised logic and reason. The facts are this; 1) the so called "war on drugs" has been a total and complete failure (with the exception of growth in the enforcement and incarceration industry.) 2) 430,000 people in this country die every year from willful and passive exposure to tobacco 3) 100,000 people in this country die every year from diseases caused by willful ingestion of alcohol 4) since the passage of the Harrison Act in 1914 which federalized marijuana prohibition, only one person has died from ingesting marijuana (he choked on it because he tried to eat it while he was being chased by the pigs)

I strongly agree that there were flaws in Prop 19. It should have been solely about repealing a stupid law and not about more taxing and regulations. It should have simply stated "All laws relavant to civil and criminal penalties with regards to marijuana are hereby repealed."

Get it? Got it! Now, was'nt that easy?


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