Editorial: More to This Vote Than Meets the Eye 11/8/02

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

David Borden, Executive Director, [email protected], 11/8/02

Activists have barely begun the debate on this year's round of drug reform votes -- "Black Tuesday," as our lead article calls it. Some of the losses, however, may have more to them than meets the eye.

Nevada's marijuana initiative, Question 9, sponsored by Nevadans for Responsible Law Enforcement, a campaign of the Marijuana Policy Project, is a good example. With 61% against and 39% for, a CNN report the next day described the initiative, which would have established a legal framework for adults possessing up to three ounces of marijuana, as having been "soundly defeated." In electoral terms, it was.

But a glass can be half empty or half full -- in this case, 39% full. Nearly four out of ten voters in Nevada chose to effectively make marijuana legal -- a clear demonstration that legalization of marijuana at least is a mainstream viewpoint, not the "fringe" or "radical" notion as charged by prohibitionists. And not only did those 39% choose legalization. They chose to have Nevada go that route alone, in advance of every other state in the country.

Add to those 39% the Nevadans who would go for legalization or regulation as part of a nationwide or worldwide reform. Add the people who had problems only with specific details of the provision in this yes or no vote, such as the fairly substantial three ounce limit, but would have opted for some similar initiative. And add to all of them the Nevadan voters who tended to favor it, but weren't sure and were hesitant in these uncertain times to approve a significant policy change whose ramifications they hadn't had a chance to fully analyze and think through, the usual drop in support suffered by most controversial ballot measures in their final days.

Then consider the overall conservative tide, and Nevada's anti-gay marriage initiative, which likely mobilized significant numbers of religious cultural conservatives to get to the polls, passing it by a wide margin. The same voters who saw fit to interfere through the force of government with the private relationship decisions of consenting individuals, are also likely to have opposed the marijuana initiative as well. This probably worked to the detriment of Question 9, but without necessarily reflecting on overall public sentiment.

Put it all together, and public support in Nevada for ending marijuana prohibition is probably pretty close to the 50% mark -- as polling showed more than once. Prohibitionist opponents of Question 9 will doubtless hold it up as an example of the public rejecting drug legalization. But that is only one side of the story.

The real message of Question 9 is that anti-prohibitionism is a cause that is not yet at the point of victory, but is gaining ground and is well inside the mainstream of political thought. Question 9 didn't change Nevada law this year, but it did take the discussion to the cover of Time magazine and TV screens and households around the country. Whether mounting Question 9 was the right decision is an issue that will be debated in reform circles for years to come, and there may never be consensus on that point. Nevertheless, NRLE and MPP deserve credit for taking the issue to a new level. This fight has only just begun.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #262, 11/8/02 Editorial: More to This Vote Than Meets the Eye | Black Tuesday for Drug Reform | Arizona Steps Back as Decrim Initiative Loses, Anti-Reform Sentencing Initiative Wins | Legal Pot in Nevada? Not This Year | New York: Pataki Victory Swamps Dems, Golisano, Marijuana Reform Party, Libertarians | Ohio "Treatment Not Jail" Initiative Runs Into Drug War Buzzsaw | No Hemp, No New Rights for Defendants in South Dakota | Wisconsin: Libertarian Thompson Gets Ten Percent | DC Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Treatment Not Jail Initiative | Massachusetts Voters Tell Reps to Support Marijuana Decrim | San Francisco Voters Ask City to Look at Growing Its Own | FAMM Victory: Amendment to Cap Federal Guideline Sentences for Low-Level Drug Offenders is Now Law | Colombian Campaign for Drug Legalization | Anti-Prohibitionists Meet Human Rights Advocates and Political Leaders at Albania Congress of Transnational Radical Party | Newsbrief: Nordic Prohibitionists Beginning Counter-Campaign Supporting UN Drug Conventions | Web Scan: Forbes on Hope Taft, Newsday on Tony Papa, New Scientist on Cannabis, Raich v. Ashcroft Lawsuit Docs | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]