Voters in California decided 46.2% to 53.8% (with 97% of the precincts reporting) against Prop. 19 that sought to legalize the adult possession, and personal cultivation, of limited quantities of marijuana in private, and to allow for local governments to regulate its commercial production and retail distribution. The 46+ percent (some 3.3 million Californians) voting ‘yes’ on Prop 19 is the greatest percentage of citizen support ever recorded on a statewide marijuana legalization effort.
Commenting on the result, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said that marijuana legalization is no longer a matter of ‘if,’ but a matter of ‘when.’ “Social change doesn’t happen overnight, and in this case we are advocating for the repeal of a criminal policy that has existed for over 70 years federally and for nearly 100 years in California.” We are taking on the establishment and those who have vested interests in maintaining this longstanding failed policy.
Yet, despite these odds, we have momentum and an unparalleled coalition of supporters – from law enforcement personnel, to civil rights groups, to organized labor, to lawyers, clergy, and public health professionals. In just a few short months, this campaign moved public opinion forward nationally, and led to the signing of historic legislation here in California that will end the arrest and prosecution of tens of thousands of minor marijuana offenders.
He continued: “Throughout this campaign, even our opponents conceded that America’s present marijuana prohibition is a failure. They recognize that the question now isn’t ‘Should we legalize and regulate marijuana,’ but ‘how should we legalize and regulate marijuana?’”
He concluded: “In the near future there will be a slew of other states deciding on measures similar to Prop 19 in their state houses and at the ballot box. And no doubt here in California, lawmakers in 2011 will once again be debating this issue, as will the voters in 2012.
Everybody on the campaign worked incredibly hard to get here and NORML was proud to play a role in this historic battle for marijuana law reform. However, none of this would have been possible without the dedicated efforts of Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University. As one of the initial proponents of Prop 19, and its major funder, he is the true definition of an activist and his commitment to the cause serves as an inspiration to marijuana law reformers everywhere.
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