Why did California vote down legal pot?
(CNN) -- California voters have just rejected Proposition 19, the ballot initiative that would have legalized marijuana under state law. Where did Prop 19 go wrong?
Prop 19 failed in part because many proponents emphasized the wrong arguments for legalization. Many advocates promised major benefits to California's budget because of reduced expenditure on marijuana prohibition and increased revenue from marijuana taxation. Other supporters claimed that Mexican drug violence would fall substantially.
Both claims were overblown. The budgetary benefits, while not insignificant, would have been small compared with California's fiscal mess. Mexican drug violence is mainly associated with the cocaine and methamphetamine trades, as well as from marijuana traffic to other states.
Many voters sensed that Prop 19 supporters were overreaching, and this made them suspicious of all the arguments in its favor. Common sense should have recognized that since marijuana was close to legal already, Prop 19 would not have had dramatic effects.
Prop 19 failed also because it overreached. One feature 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." That is a much higher bar than required by current policy.
This provision allowed Prop 19 opponents to claim that workplaces would become infested with impaired pot users. That assertion is not well-founded, but that is not the point. Prop 19 did not need to address employee marijuana-testing in the first place.
A more effective position for Prop 19 supporters would have been that employee marijuana-testing should be unencumbered by state or federal law. That would allow employers to protect themselves and their employees against perceived risks from marijuana, thereby promoting support for legalization.
A final problem with Prop 19 is that it would only have legalized marijuana under state law, since federal law also bans marijuana. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, moreover, announced just weeks before Tuesday's election that the administration would enforce the federal law fully even if Prop 19 passed.
More. . . .http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/11/03/m ... =obnetwork
Many voters sensed that Prop 19 supporters were overreaching, and this made them suspicious. I know it would make me suspicious, too