After California’s failed Proposition 19 initiative in 2010, marijuana legalizers are optimistic about two new ballot measures in Colorado and Washington.
At least three states are likely to vote on marijuana-legalization initiatives in 2012, but the measures in Colorado and Washington — two states with legalized medical pot and some permissive local laws — may stand the best chances of succeeding, having already qualified for the respective November ballots.
“These are going to be serious campaigns,” said Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the national drug-policy reform group Drug Policy Alliance. “Each one has a decent shot of becoming the first state in the country to embrace this policy change.”
Those who support legalization got their hopes up briefly in 2010. A late-September poll by Field Research showed Proposition 19 winning in California, after an election cycle that saw pot become almost mainstream as a political topic. Marijuana was aided by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s call for discussion of legalized pot in 2009, along with positive polling and the call by Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., for legalization in response to the drug war. Suddenly, pot seemed to go from a social taboo to reasonable fodder for policy discussion.
Proposition 19 failed 46.5 percent to 53.5 percent.
In Colorado and Washington, however, the measures have more momentum.
Backers of Washington’s I-502 initiative, to tax and regulate the production and sale of marijuana statewide, have already raised $1.2 million since the beginning of their signature drive in 2011. In Colorado, the campaign for a similar initiative says it has attracted hundreds of thousands of dollars through Marijuana Policy Project, a national pot-legalization group.
“We’re just about to buy about $600,000 worth of TV for the fall,” said Mason Tvert, co-director of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is pushing the initiative. Those will follow the TV ad shown below, which ran on Mother’s Day, featuring a purported daughter emailing her mother to explain a conversion from college binge-drinking days to more mature, adult pot-smoking. (“I hope this makes sense, but if not, let’s talk,” the narrator proposes , thoughtfully.)
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