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National Consequences of Prop 19 Failure

People have been arguing that marijuana should be legal in the United States for decades. Last week, California voters once again took up the idea. Proposition 19 on the ballot sought to legalize recreational marijuana use. Unfortunately for supporters, the measure failed by about seven percent of the vote.

Marijuana possession is a crime in every state. Shortly before the vote, the California governor made marijuana use an infraction, but in many states such as North Carolina a conviction for marijuana possession can still carry serious penalties.

If it had passed, Proposition 19 stood to set a precedent for other states. Proponents argued that legalizing marijuana would bring the state significant tax revenue and reduce drug crime. These arguments have been made for the last 30 years, and the recent vote showed that voters are gradually becoming more open to the idea.

In 1972, California had a similar proposition that would legalize marijuana possession. That vote failed by a vote of 66.5 percent to only 33.5 percent of voters in favor. This year's proposition garnered 44 percent of the vote.

Many people in favor of legalizing marijuana have said that they will attempt to pass a proposition in 2012. As one supporter put it, "the ingredients are already in place, which makes a lot of people think we should get right back on the horse and aim for 2012." Some believe that the low turnout of younger voters in this year's midterm election was a big factor in the bill's failure.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle (online), "Proposition 19 defeat shows great divide over pot," Kevin Fagan, 7 Nov 2010

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