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Prop 19 Was Only Start of
Marijuana Debate

BY MICHAEL FOUST                                                                                                         ©2010 Baptist Press

The votes were still being counted in California on election night when the defeated supporters of legalizing marijuana vowed they would be back in 2012, "stronger than ever."
Opponents of marijuana legalization may have won by a significant margin, 54-46 percent, but the debate over California Proposition 19 appears to have been just the beginning of what likely will be a budding political and cultural battle that could last for years, if not decades.
The question: Should America legalize marijuana for recreational use? Supporters of legalization had hoped California could set a trend that would spread nationwide. They'll try again in California in 2012 and could be joined by ballot initiatives in other states, including Washington, Colorado and Nevada.
"The legalization of marijuana is no longer a question of if but a question of when," Prop 19 supporters said in a statement.
But Wayne Johnson, campaign manager for No on 19, rejects the notion that the momentum is for legalization. "No trend is inevitable," he said Nov. 4 during a teleconference with reporters.
Prop 19 would have made California the first state to legalize the growth, sale and recreational use of marijuana. Individuals would have been able to grown it on their property in a lot no bigger than 25 square feet, and local governments would have been able to tax it; the state would not have received any revenue. It still would have been illegal on the federal level -- a fact that opponents were quick to note.
Prop 19 lost because a broad coalition of liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans came together to argue the measure was flawed and needed to be rejected. The "no" side even received backing from medicinal marijuana supporters who argued that Prop 19's passage could make it tougher and even more expensive to obtain pot for medicinal reasons, because, under the initiative's language, some towns might shut down medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
The editorial board of virtually every major newspaper in the state also opposed Prop 19. Some of those editorials said they might be able to support marijuana legalization in another form but saw too many flaws in Prop 19. 

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