Why Prop. 19 went up in smoke

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Hopes of legalizing marijuana may have gone up in smoke after Prop. 19’s defeat by a slim margin, but proponents are far from giving up. Groups such as Drug Policy Alliance, Just Say Now, and Bay Area proponents are already looking forward to 2012 to score more voters and support. But to win, they’re going to have to find solutions to the challenges they faced in this election.

While proponents are trying to rally people for 2012, others are scratching their heads and wondering what went wrong. Surprisingly, Prop. 19 failed to capture the vote in Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties, one of the most pot friendly areas of California. According to Mother Jones, the initiative failed there because the growers in the so called Emerald Triangle fear the loss of their own pot heavy economy.

But our neighbors to the north aren’t the only reason why the initiative failed. Government opposition also turned away the vote along with the worry of the Fed, especially Attorney General Eric Holder fighting California on future marijuana issues. People are also speculating on a few other factors such as the small turnout of the younger generation of voters. Even though many are in favor, they did not turn out en masse to show their support and the vote went instead to the older generations.

And of course there was the vocal opposition of the proposition. In a recent post by Ryan Grim on the Huffington Post, the opposition ad campaign verged into paranoia. “A new Chamber of Commerce radio ad warns that in a dystopian, post-legalization world a Californian could be maimed in a car accident caused by a stoned driver and then treated in the hospital by nurses high off their gourds -- all of it perfectly legal if the proposition passes, according to opponents,” wrote Grim.

Even with the loss, proponents are still hopeful for the future and see Prop. 19 as a stepping stone towards a future victory. According to Oaksterdam University Richard Lee, who funded the drive to create Prop. 19, the measure demonstrated a shift in opinions and a trend towards approving legalizing marijuana. “While we didn't bring in enough votes tonight to pass Prop. 19, we know that we have achieved an enormous moral victory, and that there are millions of people across the country who are prepared to help finish the job they started here today when we come back to the polls stronger than ever in 2012," Lee said in a statement following the defeat of the proposition.

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