The SF Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli has a very good article today examining the public support for marijuana legalization. Although the subheading reads “Bid to legalize pot is counter to U.S. trend” the article itself shows the trend favors legalization, partly because suburbanites have come around:
The suburban “soccer moms” who are likely voters have told pollsters that the measure, which would give local governments the authority to tax and regulate the sale of cannabis to adults 21 or older, would provide a safer way for their adult children to buy pot.
“One of the scary things to some people is that their kids may be buying it from someone dangerous,” said Ruth Bernstein, a pollster with EMC Research, an Oakland firm that has been doing polling and focus groups on behalf of the measure’s proponents.
This jibes with the current on-the-ground reality in California, where the battles over the present quasi-legal status of marijuana are largely taking place in suburbs and smaller towns. Here on the Monterey Peninsula there’s a debate over whether to authorize operation of “clubs” that are permitted by the state to sell marijuana to patients with a prescription. And Richard Lee’s initiative to legalize pot includes a local option that will let local governments refuse to expand the sale and use of pot beyond the state minimums that the initiative would create.
The shift of suburbanites would seem to indicate the trend favors legalization. So too does the timeline the article offered:
Legalization (with some regulation)
1986: Oregon, 24 percent. Defeated.
2000: Alaska, 41 percent. Defeated.
2002: Nevada, 39 percent. Defeated.
2004: Alaska, 44 percent. Defeated.
2006: Nevada, 44 percent. Defeated.
Removal of all penalties (without taxation, regulation)
1972: California, 34 percent. Defeated.
2006: Colorado, 41 percent. Defeated.
2008: Massachusetts, 65 percent. Approved.
Those numbers certainly look like a trend to me.
The final item from the article that would seem to give credence to the notion that the trend favors legalization is the opposition’s intellectually bankrupt arguments:
“The legalizers have yet to explain what the social betterment is by legalizing another mind-altering substance,” said John Lovell, a lobbyist for law enforcement agencies, including the California Peace Officers’ Association, that are opposed to legalization. “They’re smoking something if they think soccer moms are going to go their way.”
In fact, the legalizers have a battery of effective arguments, from the benefit to the state budget, the reduction of the prison population, and the legalization of a practice that is extremely widespread throughout this state. Pot has become a mainstream drug, used by a wide variety of people, and is largely socially accepted in this state, including in the suburbs. The local option in the initiative means that those suburbs that don’t want to become a new “Oaksterdam” don’t have to, but their residents who prefer to smoke in the privacy of their homes will have greater legal protection, and their stressed and stretched police departments won’t have to waste time on the issue.
You’d assume that the lobbyist for the CPOA would understand the need to let the police focus on other crimes, especially when police budgets are facing cuts. Instead the people of California are going to have to make the sensible decision on their own this November.