April 10, 2010

Political Scientists Differ on Marijuana Legalization Initiative

April 10, 2010

Two political scientists in California are getting vocal about the California Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. One is already predicting defeat, even though the vote isn’t until November. Jack Pitney, political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said “I wouldn’t bet the rent that it’s going to pass. Law enforcement will come out against it very strongly. We’ll see a lot of messages tying marijuana use to the use of harder drugs. And even though … it limits it to people over 21, the opponents will point out it will be very easy for younger people to get their hands on it.” Pitney also pointed out that the voting trends in mid-term elections are not favorable to the legalization initiative. “A lot of gray hairs are going to be entering the voting booth in November,” he said.

When asked if the aging baby boomer voting bloc would help in this demographic, Pitney said, “I’m one of them. However, I think a lot of us have come to have very different attitudes having families. There’s nothing like having children to turn you into an anti-drug crusader.” Pitney seems to think that campaign fundraising on the pro-legalization side will be lacking. He said, “It’s hard to know in advance. Probably not as much as you’d get in other initiative campaigns. The person behind it, Richard Lee, I don’t know how much money he has to spend.” For his final point, political scientist Jack Pitney predicted that the pro-marijuana voting bloc will fail to get big crowds to the voting booth in November. “People with the greatest interest will be too stoned to vote,” he said.

Another political scientist has a slightly different view. Doug Johnson is a research fellow at Claremont McKenna College’s Rose Institute of State and Local Government. In Mr. Johnson’s view, November’s vote could prove to be similar to the 1996 election, where California voters approved medical marijuana. “I think most of the analysis on the medical marijuana initiative was it would not stand a chance, but this is going to be very hard to predict,” he said. Mr. Johnson also said the 1996 result “definitely surprised me. Few people gave it much of a chance. It surprised a lot of people. And I think as a result of that past surprise, a lot more attention is being paid to this. There will be lots of international and national attention as the initiative gets close to November.”

Mr. Johnson also pointed out the significance of having the initiative on the same ballot as the California Governor’s race. “It will be very interesting to have this on the ballot with Jerry Brown,” Johnson said. “And actually that may add support to Brown as marijuana supporters come out. But he will be put in a bad spot. History may lead him to take one position, but as the state attorney general, I’m interested to see what he does.”

There is one important thing to point out to potential voters; regardless of what happens with this initiative, the issue is not going away. So if you plan on voting against it, know that you are only delaying the inevitable. With that being said, if you plan on voting ‘yes,’ do everyone a favor; TELL AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN RIGHT NOW! Imagine if you made it a goal to tell 420 of your friends to vote for the initiative, and held them accountable on voting day, as well as told all of them to do the same. The word would spread exponentially. Post support on your Facebook page every day, tweet about the issue every time you get a chance, and Digg/Reddit/StumbleUpon/etc. every favorable news story you come across in regards to the legalization initiative. If the word is EVERYWHERE, then NO ONE will have an excuse to ‘be too stoned to vote’ on Election Day, as political scientist Jack Pitney is predicting. Let’s prove him wrong!

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Photo by ocnorml.org


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