Marijuana legalization has gained steam in the last year and a half, and it’s becoming an issue in multiple states. A handful will vote on medical marijuana ballot initiatives this year, and in California, Proposition 19 would allow counties to legalize marijuana outright, taxing and regulating it more or less like alcohol. The California measure appears to have a reasonable shot at success: internal and SurveyUSA polling have shown it in the lead, while the more reputable Field Research has shown Prop. 19 trailing 48% to 44%. If it passes, it will shock many people who haven’t considered legalization of marijuana to be a remote possibility in this country; President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder will have to decide whether to uphold federal drug laws or allow the will of California’s voters to stand; marijuana will explode as a national topic of discussion.
For the first time in our political memory, the old talking points of the health effects of pot are null in void. With a massive fiscal crisis that is straining every aspect of Californian life, the incentives are stronger than ever to get state revenue. Cities like Oakland also need a new industry to get the economy moving again, and hence are preparing the way for the industrialization of marijuana (a Republican friend jokingly and brilliantly referred to this as the birth of the “marijuana industrial complex”).