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Voters Reject Marijuana Legalization

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(Oakland, CA)
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When it became clear Prop 19 was a lost cause, about 20 supporters outside of Oaksterdam University in Oakland formed a circle in the parking lot, lit up a joint, and passed it around. The crowd---mainly young adults in their early twenties, expected an outright victory. But many young voters, like 21 year old Jasmine Rodriguez, never turned out to the polls.  

Jasmine (JAZ-MEEN) Rodriguez: I feel horrible for it. (laughs)

SEPULVADO: So why did you miss the vote?

RODRIGUEZ: I had school, and I had a dog to take care of. (LAUGHS FOR A LONG TIME)

For PROP 19 to pass, it needed those young voters to turn out. Just a month ago, polls showed California voters supported legalizing marijuana. But among parents and older voters, there was only soft support, says marijuana advocate Allen St. Pierre. He heads the group NORML---and he says when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced he opposed Prop 19 right before the election the measure was doomed:

ST. PIERRE: Mr. Holder's press conference was extremely well covered, and the narrative, accurately or not, that the government was going to stop this from happening, definitely permeated the campaign in ways that could not be anticipated.

The public also turned on the measure after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill making small possession a legal infraction. That's according to Rodger Salazar, the spokesman for No on Prop 19:

SALAZAR: I think the governor, signing legislation that downgraded marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction, basically decriminalized it, got people to say 'If the federal government is saying this, and the governor is saying that, what's really in this initiative?'"

Supporters of Prop 19 are still claiming a win, however, saying the campaign sparked a national debate. The measure was one of the most watched in the country, and prompted vocal opposition from leading Democrats, like Senator Diane Feinstein, while earning praise from staunch conservatives, such as Grover Norquist.


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