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Did Prop. 19 Really Change the Game?

November 4, 2010
by Gary Enos
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Lately when I read the flurry of pronouncements from supporters of California’s marijuana legalization initiative, I have to remind myself that the ballot measure actually lost on Tuesday.

The Drug Policy Alliance is nothing if not prolific with its statements—and ever optimistic despite seeing Proposition 19 lose with 54% of voters opposed, in a year when pundits might have assumed that Democratic victories in the California governor’s and U.S. Senate races would bode well for the ballot item.

On Election Day, California alliance director Stephen Gutwillig said in a statement, “Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that Prop. 19 has permanently impacted the national debate.”

The next day, it was more of the same, printed in a Los Angeles Times op/ed piece by Gutwillig: “California’s experience with Proposition 19 has radically expanded and deepened the national conversation about the failure of marijuana prohibition and about the sensible and principled reasons to embrace a policy of marijuana control instead.”

I’d argue on the contrary that the Prop. 19 debate mostly fortified positions that people already held, from those who passionately defend the status quo to those who contend that a radically new approach is needed. While medical marijuana initiatives of recent years may have been the game changer in creating a nuanced view of the drug in society, Tuesday’s vote (in a state always open to change) would seem to signal that a strong majority of the American public simply isn’t ready to see marijuana treated like alcohol or tobacco.

What do you think?


Gary Enos


Gary Enos


Gary A. Enos has been the editor of Addiction Professional since its inception. He also...

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