What Happened to Prop 19


Why did the Pot Legalization proposition go down to defeat in California?

ed.note: A lot of people on both sides of the Prop 19 issue have written in with various points about Prop 19 but usually assuming that I personally supported it. I hadn’t really focused on it much, honestly. But I think I probably would have voted against it. For two reason: First, unless I’m missing something, it amounts to nullification. The federal government seems like the competent authority to regulate this question, even if I think our drug policy is a disaster. Federal laws trump state laws, even when you don’t like them.More generally though, I just don’t know if I think marijuana should be legalized at all. Maybe it’s that I’m getting into my 40s. And maybe I’m a hypocrite. I of course know people who smoke grass. And I don’t have any problem with it. Decriminalized? Yes, I think probably so. But that’s not the same as legalization. It’s very different actually. And let me be clear that I think our drug laws are catastrophic. They create endemic violence first in our major cities and now along the borders and it’s led to generations of Americans rotting in prison. The whole war on drugs is an unmitigated disaster. And the fact that people can’t use marijuana for clear medical reasons is crazy. But do I think it should be like alcohol? Anyone over 18 or 21 can buy it?

I remember, many years ago, talking to my father about the idea of legalization. And bear in mind, my Dad, God bless him, smoked a decent amount of grass in his day, said he didn’t like the idea. One reason is that he was already a bit older by that time. But he had this very contradictory and hard to rationalize position which was that he was fine with people smoking pot but keeping it at least nominally illegal kept public usage in some check. Again, how to rationalize that in traditional civic terms? Not really sure. But frankly, I think I kind of agree.

For what it’s worth, of course I’ve smoked pot. But for purely personal reasons I haven’t in more than twenty years.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.