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Will the Marijuana Vote Help the Democrats in November?

That's the question everyone's asking this week thanks to this piece from Joshua Green at The Atlantic. The idea is that putting marijuana reform initiatives on the ballot could bring greater numbers of young, left-leaning voters out to the polls in November. With marijuana initiatives up for a vote in six states this year, we'll have an interesting opportunity to evaluate how other campaigns are impacted by the pot vote.

Whether the theory amounts to much is hard to predict and will be difficult to measure even after the polls close in November. But the fact that we're even talking about this is significant. Our political culture is fascinated with the idea that niche demographics can be mobilized in a cynical effort to shape the balance of power in Washington. Karl Rove's successful use of gay marriage bans to bring out conservative voters in 2004 is still widely regarded as an ingenious ploy that may have clinched the election for Bush.

The mere notion that state-level marijuana reform efforts can impact national politics is a healthy dose of leverage and legitimacy for our movement. When political pundits begin speculating about our ability to bring out voters, that sends a message to politicians in a language they understand. For decades, the Democratic Party has remained shamefully silent on marijuana policy -- despite overwhelming support for reform within its base – all because party leaders persist in clinging foolishly to the 1980's mentality that any departure from the "tough on drugs" doctrine is political suicide. What now?

Will the Democrats continue defending the arrest of their own supporters, even when doing so threatens to compromise their candidates in close races? Will the Republicans make a show of fighting back against legalization, even when doing so threatens to alienate the party's growing libertarian wing? What happens next is anyone's guess, but it's becoming clear that the surging marijuana legalization debate is pinching political nerves and creating opportunities for anyone clever enough to capitalize on it.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Yes Vote on Prop 19 Sends a Powerful Message to the Feds

If California, the eighth largest economy in the world, votes yes on Prop 19 in November, it will be the greatest revocation and rejection of federal government intent by a state since the secession of the Confederacy.  Correct me if I’m wrong.

No one is really all that thrilled with the feds, anyway.  They screw up too much.  D.C. still hasn’t been properly punished for conspiring with ENRON criminals who jacked up California electricity costs to benefit a few Bush family friends in Texas.  Or for plunging housing equities in urban areas by 40%.

Regardless of how anyone feels about little ol’ marijuana, Californians of all federally affected party affiliations can use Prop 19 to give the Washington bureaucrats a serious kick in the ass.  They deserve it.  And California schools deserve the tax revenue from cannabis.



I removed a comment due to marginal relevance and excessive length. I try not to be too strict, but when I see a comment that's longer than my entire post and doesn't even address any of the points I made, that's a problem. Sorry.

Deletion or censorship?

Well, let me ask you then:

Why are you not covering the RAND report, which states that prop 19 could cause prices to plummet to $38/ounce? Is that not an important topic to cover?

A person could be forgiven for imagining that your deletion was really a decision to not cover that report out of fear of losing the grower vote.

Are you serious?

We published an article on that yesterday, before you wrote this mean comment. It's right here in this week's Drug War Chronicle:

We work hard to cover the latest news and we do a good job. Imagine how it feels to be attacked by someone who hasn't even checked the rest of the site.

It wasn't intended to be a

It wasn't intended to be a mean comment. The reporting on Prop 19 thus far seems to me to be overly-optimistic. The time to be talking about the problems with Rich Lee's campaign and the implications of CA legalization is right now. We should be encouraging these conversations instead of nitpicking about where we have them. There are numerous reasons to be very concerned right now.

When it comes to drcnet's reporting on the RAND report -- which does not appear on the homepage blog, incidentally -- there is no critical look at their analysis on your website. Where is the second-guessing on that $38 figure? The figure is complete garbage, and anybody who knows a handful of growers can destroy it. The study appears to not have consulted a single grower, which appears evident from just reading it.

If you read the source paper for the $38 figure, it looks to me like economics understudies reading Jorge Cervantes book, designing a grow system for the very first time. The product they would create with this business would be completely substandard (aka "shwag"). There is incredible variance in product quality in this particular market, no different than for alcohol. This notion that you can ascribe one single value to an ounce of marijuana makes no more sense than confusing Johnny Blue for Pabst Blue Ribbon.

But nobody anywhere presented any challenge to the $38 figure. And so now we have a new unchallenged meme on the table that marijuana will decrease in value to $38/ounce. These things really do matter -- even to the number of people who will be showing up at the ballot. You might as well write off Emerald, Humboldt and Mendocino counties right there, no?

borden's picture

my turn

Now it's my turn to ask if you're serious. First, so what if our Rand article wasn't on the home page blog? It went out in our newsletter to tens of thousands of the most interested people -- which pieces on the blog usually don't. Our new site design coming up will see all news items make it to the home page, by the way.

As far as Prop 19 goes, we have on multiple occasions pointed out that it's going to be a tough fight despite the polls showing it leading. If you didn't know that we've done so, then you haven't been reading or don't want to know what we've actually written.

As far as the study goes, I have some questions about it too. But I also think you have woefully underestimated the amount of analysis and thought needed to evaluate such a study. These researchers are people who are known to be careful academics with relatively little political interest and who have etensive histories of work respected by everyone. We did not attempt to poke holes in the study for three reasons: 1) Formulating an intelligent opinion on these research findings is a significantly-sized project that requires a scientific level of engagement in it; 2) What the right answers should be to these research questions is not as obvious as you've made them out to be; and 3) The researchers themselves made abundantly clear that their findings were subject to huge variations and uncertainties, something which our article about the study also communicated quite clearly.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC


The dems have not just remained silent. Led by Biden they've created some of the worst laws we have crack sentencing and the rave act as well as asset forfeture. Under democrats man exploits man, under republicans its just the opposite.

what's the opposite of man

what's the opposite of man vs man? man vs man again? corporation vs man?

Dems and Prop 19

The prison guard union(Ca. Correctional Police Officers Assn.) is the most powerful political lobby in Cali, only after the medical lobby. Controlled legalization of Marijuana means a loss of jobs for them. The prison-industrial complex is very strong in Cali and they give tons of "donations" to Democrats and Republicans. So a lot of lip service to Prop 19 is just that.

Brown vs. green

With California Democratic candidate Jerry Brown having taken a very public stand against Prop. 19, I think there is a good chance that the most motivated prop 19 supporters will be alienated enough to throw their support to the token Green candidate, which would have the perverse effect of strengthening Meg Whitman's chances.I'm not sure that the California Democratic part's endorsement of Prop 19 will be enough to overcome the bad feelings that Brown has generated.

Either way, no good news for us with respect to the California executive branch, I'm afraid.

Democrats and Republicans,

Democrats and Republicans, two sides of the same coin. In my opinion, the only way we will see any significant change in policy is to vote third party. Personaly, I voted for Obama and the democrat's and while the rhetoric has changed, policy has not. I will no longer vote for the lesser of two evils. Instead, I will write in a canadite who represents my views.


Please look at Libertarians,I did,and switched from Republican after 25 years. 

i too am sick of

i too am sick of 'progressives' of all stripes who cling to the idea that the democratic party represents their views sufficiently to warrant support. at best, the democratic party is marginally better than the republicans, which is to say they fall far short of enlightened, compassionate policy when in power. rather than speculate how marijuana reform might help them, why not speculate how it might help a true 'change we can believe in' by increasing voter turnout to the green party, whose membership and candidates aren't beholden to corrupt corporate interests, and who don't namby pamby around radical reform like legalization, but embrace it!

the virgin terry



THE TRUTH DOCTOR did not actually write this . It was found online while researching
for her views regarding Proposition 19 .

This last week I tried a new tactic. In the past, I was very upfront about being a marijuana activist, and that I operate a pro-marijuana website. As you can imagine, that probably turned off a lot of conservative politicians. When one asks a conservative to participate in a logical, factual based conversation about marijuana, they tend to duck and dodge. This last week I pretended to be one of ‘their own,’ when I called Meg Whitman’s campaign headquarters. I said my name was Bill, I lived in Eastern California, I have ALWAYS voted Republican, and I want to know what Meg Whitman is going to do if the marijuana legalization initiative passes.

The answer was shocking. I already knew that Meg Whitman opposed the marijuana legalization initiative. What I didn’t know is that she plans to NOT SIGN the initiative if it passes. That’s right – if she wins the election in November, and voters approve the initiative, she plans on defying the will of the voters and not signing the initiative into law. Her campaign staff told me that they don’t care how much the voters want marijuana legalization, and it doesn’t matter how large of a margin of victory it obtains in the election; she will act as if it never happened.

I don’t know about the readers of TWB, but I think that’s pretty stupid, if not outright illegal. I can already see it now; the initiative passes and Meg Whitman says, “It’s illegal under federal law, so my hands are tied.” I would like to remind Meg Whitman well ahead of time THAT HER JOB IS TO BE GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA, not the Governor of the federal government. If she was a true conservative, she would cling to state sovereignty and state’s rights, and not cling to false propaganda she heard growing up.

If she is willing to state ahead of time that she will defy the will of the voters on this issue, what would stop her from defying the will of the voters her entire tenure as Governor on any issue she sees fit? Didn’t we kick out the British hundreds of years ago because America believes in democracy, not a dictatorship? Who does Meg Whitman think she is, the ‘Queen of California??’ I know the alternative choice isn’t exactly a marijuana sympathizer, but when I called Jerry Brown’s campaign headquarters they talked to me on the first try, and I didn’t have to pretend to be anyone. His campaign office told me that while Mr. Brown doesn’t believe in marijuana legalization, his administration would sign it into law and respect the will of the voters. Which candidate would you rather vote for??
On amother note she's been broadcasting all over the radio that she is 100% against Mexican immigrants coming to Arizona and she agrees with Arizona's new law . I have several pictures of a huge billboard located on a freeway & in spanish that she states she is AGAINST Arizona's law . Feel free to write me for your copy

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