California voters have just rejected Proposition 19, the ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana under state law. The passing of the law failed by a very narrow margin. Prop 19 would have allowed anyone over the age of 21 to carry marijuana, in limited amounts, and would have also allowed local governments to set a sales tax and related fees on the purchase of the popular drug.
So, where did Prop 19 go wrong?
Some news reports are blaming the average age of voter turnout as the reason that the proposition failed. Many say that Prop 19 overreached and emphasized the wrong arguments for legalization.
Advocates promised major benefits to California’s budget because of reduced expenditure on marijuana prohibition and increased revenue from marijuana taxation. It seems a logical benefit as Prop 19 could have meant millions of dollars in revenue for state and local governments in California. While not insignificant, the budgetary benefits were not convincing enough, as they would have been small as compared to California’s overall fiscal mess.
Other supporters claimed that Mexican drug violence would fall substantially. The counter-argument is that Prop 19 failed because Mexican drug violence is mainly associated with the cocaine and methamphetamine trades
In addition, Prop 19 attempted to protect the “rights” of employees who get fired or disciplined for using marijuana, including a provision that employers could only discipline marijuana use that “actually impairs job performance.”
A problem with this argument may be the way Prop 19 addressed employee marijuana-testing, as it proposed a much higher bar than required by current policy.
Another factor that likely played a role in Prop 19’s failure is U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement just weeks before Tuesday’s election. Holder made it clear that the administration would enforce the federal law fully even if Prop 19 passed.
Not all government officials agree. Former U.S. Surgeon Generall Dr. Joycelyn Elders aired her views in advance of California’s vote on Proposition 19, by explaining her concern was the high number of American youth now serving time for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.
Why do you think Prop 19 failed?
Do you think the failure of Prop 19 will affect Michigan’s law?
If you have questions about marijuana or medical marijuana please contact Samantha Moffett at (248) 624-5500