Pubdate: Wed, 3 Nov 2010
Source: Oakland Tribune, The (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Bay Area News Group
Author: John Woolfolk
Referenced: Prop. 19 Results
Cited: Proposition 19
Bookmark: (Proposition 19)


When Californians put an initiative on the ballot to legalize 
recreational marijuana smoking, the whole nation tuned in to see 
whether the state would lead a new marijuana law revolution.

After all, California voters pioneered medical marijuana more than a 
decade ago. But Tuesday they doused Proposition 19, rejecting the 
country's first effort to legalize marijuana.

As of this morning, the no votes totaled nearly 52 percent.

The defeat came even as voters in San Jose and other Bay Area cities 
embraced local regulation and tax measures on pot providers.

Heavily outspent, Proposition 19 opponents had garnered bipartisan 
support from the likes of outgoing Republican Gov. Arnold 
Schwarzenegger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

"It really showed this is not the direction people in the state of 
California want to go," said Tim Rosales, a campaign manager for 
Proposition 19 opponents, predicting that a defeat would dampen 
enthusiasm for legalization efforts nationally. "Once people get to 
read it and see that it really is a jumbled mess, this isn't the way to do it."

Proposition 19 failed to capture the big urban Southern California 
counties it needed to prevail, including Los Angeles and San Diego, 
as well as others farther north, including Santa Clara and Sacramento.

However, a sizable percentage of Californians were willing to give 
legal marijuana a try -- particularly in central coast counties from 
Monterey through San Francisco and Alameda north to Sonoma.

Richard Lee of Oakland, the measure's chief proponent, said the 
results show growing support for legalizing the drug, calling the 
fact that so many voters supported the initiative "a tremendous victory."

Central coast voters who favored the measure cited frustration with a 
decades-long war on drugs that has scarcely dented marijuana's 
availability on the streets while enriching criminal gangs.

"I'm fed up with the government and the way it's handled it," said 
Carole Reis, 63, who lives in the Santa Cruz County town of Felton. 
"I'm so tired of all the gangs. If it was all legal, we'd know who's 
selling it and who's buying it. It would be more out in the open."

San Jose, which saw a huge spike in medical marijuana dispensaries in 
the past year, was among several cities that put their own marijuana 
measures on the ballot. San Jose's Measure U would allow the city to 
tax marijuana businesses -- medical or otherwise -- up to 10 percent, 
and was leading by a wide margin in a county where Proposition 19 was 
losing. The City Council will consider a moratorium on new medical 
marijuana providers later this month.

Jean Dresden, 55, of Willow Glen voted against Proposition 19, 
fearing it would invite the same kinds of problems already evident 
with alcohol, and saying she believed many of the medical marijuana 
dispensaries appeared to be drawing recreational crowds. But she 
voted for the city's measure because "if voters approve 19, I want 
San Jose to get its fair share."

Janine Pasion, 55, a card-carrying medical marijuana patient, voted 
just the opposite, favoring Proposition 19 but opposing the idea of a 
new tax on the drug.

Similar local marijuana measures in Oakland, Berkeley and Albany also 
were leading.

Proposition 19 would have allowed people 21 and older to possess, 
cultivate or transport marijuana for personal use, and allow local 
governments to regulate and tax it.

Backers, including Joseph McNamara, a former San Jose police chief, 
said marijuana prohibition has been a costly failure and that the 
drug should be regulated and taxed like liquor. Critics said 
Proposition 19 would make it harder to keep stoners off the road and 
out of the workplace.

California in 1996 led the country in softening marijuana laws for 
the sick when voters approved Proposition 215, which legalized 
medicinal marijuana. Since then, 13 other states have adopted similar laws. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake