Statement from Richard Lee, Prop 19 Proponent
OAKLAND, CA -- In response to the voting results on Proposition 19, the California ballot measure to control and tax marijuana, Prop. 19 proponent Richard Lee released the following statement:
"The fact that millions of Californians voted to legalize marijuana is a tremendous victory. We have broken the glass ceiling. Prop. 19 has changed the terms of the debate. And that was a major strategic goal.
"Over the course of the last year, it has become clear that the legalization of marijuana is no longer a question of if but a question of when. Because of this campaign, millions now understand it's time to develop an exit strategy for the failed war on marijuana. Across the state our opponents, including many newspaper editorial boards that failed to properly understand Prop. 19, repeatedly stated that their quibbles were not with legalization in general. When we come back with a new initiative in 2012, there will be a seat at the table for all of these new stakeholders. And we will be coming back, stronger than ever.
"With limited resources this time around we were able to build an enormously powerful coalition of cops and moms, law professors and civil rights leaders, liberals and libertarians, conservatives and unions; all hungry for change. For the first time we were able to unite in favor of legalization. Groups like the National Black Police Association, the National Latino Officers Association, the California Council of Churches IMAPCT, California NAACP, SEIU of California, United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, members of the U.S. Congress, local Democratic party committees, state legislators and many, many individual law enforcers, faith leaders, civil rights activists, students, professors of law and business leaders said it's time for a new beginning. This coalition will only continue to grow in size and strength as we prepare for 2012.
"Even the establishment was divided. While Senator Dianne Feinstein lent her name to the opposition, others, realizing that legalization is on its way, got in front of the message. When Gov. Schwarzenegger signed SB 1449, the bill reducing marijuana offenses to an infraction, a few weeks ago, it was a clear concession to the power of the legalization movement and a recognition of the obvious failure of our marijuana laws. This singular change in law, brought about by the momentum of our campaign, will protect tens of thousands of Californians from arrest each and every year. It will save California taxpayers money, and it will make our streets safer. But it's only a start, and there's much more work to be done.
"And the American public will help bring about this change. A Gallup poll released just a few days ago found record support for legalization across the country, with 46 percent saying they think marijuana use 'should be made legal.' That's a bigger result than Gallup has ever recorded in its 40-year history asking this question.
"The issue is generational. Fully 70 percent of 18-29 year-olds are in favor of legalization. And, many of the biggest contributors to the campaign were younger and based in Silicon Valley, representing a changing of the guard of political influence and leadership. With the help of our coalition, many of these new leaders are going to bring about the change that is now inevitable. Inspired by the momentum we've generated with Prop 19 here in California, we're beginning to see other states gearing up for legalization efforts, both via ballot initiative in states like Washington, Nevada and Colorado, and in the state legislature in places like Rhode Island.
"And so, while we didn't bring in enough votes tonight to pass Prop. 19, we know that we have achieved an enormous moral victory, and that there are millions of people across the country who are prepared to help finish the job they started here today when we come back to the polls stronger than ever in 2012."