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Why Prop 19 Didn't Pass (And Why We'll Win Next Time)

Submitted by smorgan on

Despite its defeat on Tuesday, Prop 19 has been widely hailed as a watershed moment for the marijuana reform movement, and I'm happy to concur. We didn't win, but we didn’t lose very badly either, and we sure as hell gained more ground than our opposition. For anyone surprised or disappointed by the outcome, let me break down why I think the vote turned out the way it did, and why we have a lot to look forward to.

The bottom line is that this was not a presidential election year. Doing this campaign in a midterm election put us at a significant disadvantage. When the White House is up for grabs, young voters turn out in huge numbers, guaranteeing big points for an issue like marijuana reform. This means we could likely win by running basically the same campaign in 2012. It's really important that we emphasize this fact as much as possible, because we don't want anyone underestimating public support for legalization. Tell your friends: we lost because of timing, not lack of public support.

As much as it sucks to find ourselves waiting once again, this is just part of the process, and it's a process that increasingly favors us the longer it continues. Aside from the part where we lost, the fight for Prop 19 has been awesome. The case for legalizing marijuana has never received so much exposure and mainstream support, and we get to take all of it home with us. What did we get?

1. We walk away with new allies, new friends, and new funders, all of whom are likely to stand with us again in the near future.

2. We walk away with marijuana decriminalized in California. Even if our opponents used decriminalization as an argument against Prop 19, it's still an important step forward.

3. We walk away with record high national support for legalizing marijuana. By campaigning in California, we gained new supporters across the country and they will remain on our side.

There is no doubt that the failure of multiple marijuana reform initiatives this election cycle will be spun by some as evidence that the momentum of our movement has abated. I invite anyone who believes this to go ahead and forget about us. Forget who we are and what we represent, forget how close we came to legalizing marijuana in the nation's largest state during a midterm election with a modest budget, and forget that we'll be back in two years pushing harder than ever before. Forget about us and get some rest, my drug warrior friends, because you're going to need it.

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