By Mike Meno
California voters may have rejected Proposition 19 last week, but a poll released after the election shows that a majority of California voters still believe marijuana should be legal in principle, and that our current laws do more harm than good.
The poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that:
-- 50 percent of California voters believe the use of marijuana should be made legal, regardless of their feelings on Prop. 19.
-- 52 percent of voters believe our marijuana laws do more harm than good, agreeing that, “Like alcohol prohibition, laws against marijuana do more harm than good.” Only 37 percent disagreed with this statement.
-- 31 percent of people who voted “no” on Prop. 19 believe marijuana should be legal, and agreed to the statement, “I believe marijuana should be legalized or penalties for marijuana should be reduced, but I opposed some of the specifics of Proposition 19.”
-- 44 percent of voters believe legalization is inevitable, including 25 percent who voted against Prop. 19.
The survey’s most striking find is that if youth voters had turned out last week in the numbers they typically do during a presidential election year, Proposition 19 would have been statistically tied, with 49 percent voting yes to 51 voting no. That statistic and others reinforces our belief that a different measure to end marijuana prohibition would be well poised for victory in 2012 in a state like California or Colorado.
And if that isn’t enough to convince people that the movement to make marijuana legal is exponentially gaining strength, not losing it, consider this: In last week’s California election, Republican Meg Whitman spent an unprecedented $160 million on her campaign to become governor, and she lost, receiving only 3.1 million votes, or about 41 percent overall. The Proposition 19 campaign, on the other hand, spent only about $4 million, and Prop. 19 received 3.4 million votes (or 46 percent) – beating Whitman handily.
With solid funding, a healthy turnout by young voters, and a coalition of allies that is now larger and stronger because of the Prop. 19 campaign, there is every reason to believe we can be victorious in another two years. Don’t give up hope.