Smoke and spin
Will Proposition 19 be a boon for Democrats on November 2?
D.C.-based website Politico reported last week that the initiative—which would decriminalize recreational cannabis for adults and give local governments the option to tax and regulate marijuana—might be overlooked advantage that will put state Dems such as Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer over the top this election.
Of course, no one can anticipate Prop. 19’s impact on turnout for certain. Recent polls suggest that the initiative itself might pass; a Field Poll released last week shows the ballot measure with a seven-point lead, at 49 percent support. Many also assume a correlation between pot smokers and Democrat voters.
The No on 19 campaign, however, doesn’t smell such smoke. “We haven’t seen any evidence of [19 helping Dems],” argued Sacramento-based No on Proposition 19 spokesman Tim Rosales. “Every Democrat running for statewide office has come out opposing Prop. 19. They’re all running away from it as fast as they can.”
Mike Meno, communications director for D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, agreed that Dems are avoiding 19. “For too long, politicians have thought marijuana was a third-rail issue,” he says.
But he also warns that politicians are squandering a substantial electorate. “Millions of Americans want to see our marijuana laws change,” Meno argued. “They know prohibition is a failure. They want to see a different approach.”
Marijuana Policy Project, which supports Prop. 19, warns that if top-of-the-ticket Democrat candidates keep distancing themselves from cannabis, it could backfire. “[This] creates an opportunity for Republicans,” said Meno, arguing that legalizing cannabis appeals to libertarian, right and moderate voters as well. “Sooner or later someone is going to realize that there can be a lot of value politically in supporting [marijuana] reforms.”
But perhaps Dems will get on board first. California Democratic Party chairman and former state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, as noted in the Politico story, has stated that “pot” will be a force that drives young voters to the ballots this year, just as President Barack Obama got them to vote in 2008.
Surveys show that 70 percent of voters under age 35 support marijuana legalization. “But by and large, Democrat politicians have balked at the chance to capitalize on this issue,” said MPP’s Meno. (Nick Miller)
Shining light on Prop. 23
Arts, culture and activism hub Sol Collective will be hosting a pretty hot event this month when Yes on 23 spokeswoman Anita Mangels debates Sierra Club director Bill Magavern over the climate-change initiative Proposition 23.
The measure, if approved by voters, would freeze California’s 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, or Assembly Bill 32. Sierra Club vehemently opposes the measure, which is supported predominately by Big Oil companies based out of state. Mangels has argued in the past that oil companies’ greenhouse-gas emissions are not actually pollutants.
The Sol Collective debate will take place on Tuesday, October 26, at 7 p.m. at 2574 21st Street, just south of Broadway, and is free to the public. (N.M.)