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No Clear Direction on Marijuana Vote

August 29, 2010
by Gary Enos
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Even the most seasoned political forecaster might hesitate to predict the outcome of Proposition 19, this November’s marijuana legalization initiative on the California state ballot. A number of variables could affect the vote on whether California local governments should be allowed to regulate cultivation and sales of marijuana and to impose excise taxes on transactions.

A few of these factors don’t even have much to do with the marijuana question at all. Some believe the outcome hinges more on the relative success of the two major parties in mobilizing voters in the state’s high-profile governor’s and U.S. Senate races.

Many associations representing government officials in California have formally expressed opposition to Prop. 19, and there remains doubt over how many counties and cities would actually choose to shift their marijuana policy so dramatically if given the authority to do so. But the decision for cash-strapped counties would be a difficult one, as evidenced by a recent 3-2 vote by the Solano County Board of Supervisors to oppose the ballot measure.

The Contra Costa Times reported last week that Supervisor John Vasquez cast a vote in opposition in part to reflect the county’s current ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. Supervisor Barbara Kondylis, on the other hand, voted in support of Prop. 19 because she believes anti-drug spending should be redirected.

"This country spends billions of dollars every year to try to eradicate a problem that is never going away,” Kondylis told the newspaper. “I would rather see all those billions of dollars spent on treatment and rehab.”

Do you think addiction treatment professionals in California and elsewhere should speak out regarding marijuana legalization initiatives? How do you think adoption of Prop. 19 would benefit or harm treatment?



Given that anti-marijuana liberalization activists are quick to demonize anyone with pro-marijuana views, it is unrealistic to expect treatment professionals to publicly share opinions supporting Proposition 19.

The disincentives here in California are even more pronounced because of our funding challenges. Most treatment programs are dependent on criminal justice system and local county funding streams, which might react adversely to treatment program professionals that expressed support for Proposition 19.

Similar dynamics have occurred previously around ballot initiatives such as the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act (defeated) and Proposition 36 (passed).

Regarding Proposition 19 there has been some analysis about the discrepancy between private voter support and what people are willing to publicly acknowledge. This dynamic is liklely to be even more pronounced in attempting to measure treatment professionals' views on this issue.

Gary Enos


Gary Enos

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

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