Why Prop 19's failure is a victory anyway

I will admit, I held high hopes that California's 'Proposition 19' (Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Act) would succeed and open the floodgates to prove marijuana as a relatively harmless recreational substance.  I know, I was reaching, but that isn't the point.  I saw the success of Prop 19 as being a kickoff for a 'domino effect' of changes of public opinion based on reliable, accurate information.

As it turns out, I wasn't thinking 'outside the box'.  It may be that the very act of putting it on the ballot stirred up support elsewhere in the United States for similar measures - South Dakota actually had a medical marijuana measure on the ballot (it failed), Arizona has Prop 203 to legalize medical marijuana (up to 2.5oz) apparently still in ballot-limbo, and two brand-new state Governors (Vermont's Peter Shumlin and Connecticut's Dan Malloy) just happen to be on the side of Decriminalization and medical marijuana.

One point that I would like to make is this:  Understand that California, the most populous state in America, was able to get a measure on the ballot that completely decriminalized marijuana, and it achieved 46% of the popular vote.  This seems like a pretty big deal to me.

Proponents of decriminalization in Colorado want to step up and take the title of 'First State to Legalize' in the wake of this very close defeat.  California will also be voting on this measure again in 2012.

A side-effect of the Prop 19 campaign is that it forced the anti-marijuana activists to unload their entire rhetorical arsenal - they had to lay out every single argument for the public to see.  Most of them involve word-play to try to justify continued prohibition, and the rest contain logical fallacies or appeals to emotion.  More importantly, this gave the proponents of legalization the opportunity to offer the counter-perspective along with tons of evidence.  It allowed for the conversation/debate to actually take place, rather than be swept under the rug and ignored.

The Marijuana Policy Project is working to promote pro-marijuana measures in 8 states in 2012.


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