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Where Do Your Representatives Stand On Pot?


Aired 10/14/10

Elected officials in San Diego are either opposed to Proposition 19 or don’t want to make their position public, according to the results of a KPBS survey. KPBS News survey 146 elected and appointed officials in the county - among them mayors, council members, city attorneys and police chiefs – on whether they support the ballot initiative that would regulate and tax marijuana just like alcohol. Find out where they stand.

— Elected officials in San Diego are either opposed to Proposition 19 or don’t want to make their position public, according to the results of a KPBS survey.

KPBS News surveyed 146 elected and appointed officials in the county - among them mayors, council members, city attorneys and police chiefs – on whether they support the ballot initiative that would regulate and tax marijuana just like alcohol.

Of the 146 people polled, 41 were opposed to Prop 19, three declined to state, and two had no opinion. The remainder did not respond to our survey.

KPBS Surveyed San Diego Officials On Where They Stand On Prop. 19
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Above: KPBS Surveyed San Diego Officials On Where They Stand On Prop. 19

Proposition 19 not only legalizes growing and possessing small amounts of recreational marijuana, it allows cities and counties to regulate and tax the commercial production and sale of marijuana. That means if the proposition passes, the same officials KPBS surveyed will decide whether their respective cities will allow pot sales and collect tax revenue from those sales.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders did not respond to the survey. Sherry Lightner was the only city of San Diego councilmember who did respond with a “neither.”

All five county supervisors responded with a “no” on Proposition 19. Their opposition is not surprising after that board unanimously passed a resolution last month opposing the initiative.

San Marcos City Council also passed a similar resolution in opposition.

Santee Mayor Randy Voepel was the only representative from his city to respond. In an email Voepel said Proposition 19 “is just another avenue for druggies to get their easiest drug of choice legalized.”

“I have been disgusted by all the dopers I have had to endure in high school, Vietnam, business, government and our whole society,” Voepel said.

When a person dopes themselves up, they are depriving themselves and society of their full ability to work and function. Drug use in the USA has, is, will, destroy millions of productive lives and finances the international drug cartels. We have dumb downed and doped up our society beyond the recovery point in my opinion. We have all been placed on this earth by God for many reasons.... being stoned most of the day is not one of them. The use of Marijuana for health reasons does not make sense to me because you can get THC pills that would do the same thing, this is just another avenue for druggies to get their easiest drug of choice legalized. California is completely dysfunctional on almost every level, this just adds to the misery of many people too dumb or doped up to know/care the difference.

-Randy Voepel, mayor of Santee

Nearly 70 percent of the officials we contacted chose not to answer the survey at all. According to Thad Kousser, professor of Political Science at UCSD, this high non-response rate is an important factor.

“On one hand you have very strong results. However, as local elected officials they might be worried about taking an affirmative stand on Proposition 19,” Kousser said.

An affirmative stance might be an unpopular position to take, Kousser said.

It is safer for officials to wait and see what their voters want at election time rather than to risk taking an unpopular standpoint beforehand, he said.

“There are electoral problems with stating your support of marijuana legalization. That might come back to bite you if you are an elected official, especially if you’re one up for election this November,” Kousser said.

“Since the poll was a simple ‘yes or no’ option, many officials may be hesitant to respond without being given context to explain their position.”

Despite the majority of officials declining to respond to the KPBS survey, the results are significant, Kousser said.

“San Diego is a conservative law and order city where many of our state laws are enforced more tightly,” said Kousser. “I think that this poll accurately states that most San Diego officials are opposed to marijuana legalization, but it might slightly overstate the case because this wasn’t an anonymous poll.”

KPBS also asked its web audience the same question officials were asked. More than 3,000 people responded to the KPBS online poll. About 94 percent were in favor of legalizing and taxing marijuana, compared to five percent opposed.

Kousser’s explanation may clarify the gap between public opinion and official opinion. Voters do not have to worry about approval ratings or re-election.

Most of the respondents to the KPBS poll found their way there “virally.” In other words, our poll was circulated on Facebook and Twitter, with Facebook generating the largest response.

How do these results stack up to state-wide scientific polls? The latest Field Poll reports the state being more evenly divided in their opinion on legal pot.

The Field Research Corporation found 49 percent in favor, 42 percent against Proposition 19. More than 80 percent of those asked were aware of the ballot initiative. Kousser said that most propositions need at least a 55 percent favor rating for it to similarly carry over to the election.

What do you think? If you would still like to weigh in on this issue you can comment below or take our Prop.19 poll.

We also invite all San Diego government officials who received our survey and did not respond, to post their comments below.

Project Envision San Diego

Google spreadsheet identifying those surveyed along with individual responses or lack or response.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'acresboy'

acresboy | October 14, 2010 at 7:47 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Avatar for user 'mjs123'

mjs123 | October 14, 2010 at 8:39 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Dear God: Please bring back the late 1980s and early 1990s when this drug thing was under control with a great economy for everyone. Please bring back the leaders and the people that put these drugs under control during that time period. These pro Prop 19 people are being controlled by pot. Their minds are altered and they think they need pot everyday to live. Oh, God, help us all.

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Avatar for user 'mjs123'

mjs123 | October 14, 2010 at 8:42 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

We do not have anyone that is a role model in this decade. Not like the Mother Teresa's, Nancy Reagans, etc. of the 1980s. Morals are down the drain and there is no freaking role model. Everyone is just greedy out of control SOBs with minds altered by drugs. Bring back the Reagans. Nancy Reagan was the "only" First Lady who got off her a s s and visited drug rehabs, drug treatment centers, and schools to preach a drug-free America. No one is doing that today. "Evidence suggests drug use and abuse significantly declined during the Reagan presidency. According to research conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, more young people in the 1980s were saying no to drugs. High school seniors using marijuana dropped from 50.1% in 1978 to 36% in 1987,to 12% in 1991 and the percentage of students using other drugs decreased similarly. Psychedelic drug use dropped from 11% to 6%, cocaine from 12% to 10%, and heroin from 1% to 0.5%."

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Avatar for user 'mjs123'

mjs123 | October 14, 2010 at 9:01 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

If California is going to legalize marijuana, do it the right way for God's sake.
Prop 19 is nothing like the drug policy of Netherlands and Portugal. Prop 19 is a very socially irresponsible policy. Netherlands and Portugals number 1 drug policy is to rehabilitate recreational drug users. In Portugal, if you get caught using drugs, you get treatment. Prop 19 does nothing to treat and educate the pot users. Prop 19 is merely saying, "I have a pot habit, make pot available to me. You do not need to educate me nor rehabilitate me." That's the big freaking difference between Netherlands and Portugal's drug policies and Prop 19.

We have many "healthy" 18 year old teens today who are everyday users of medical marijuana. The parents cannot do a thing because they are adults. Pot has already altered their minds and they are dependent on pot each day. They do not want to get help and think that marijuana is 100% safe because the doctor said so. They don't want to be rehabilitated. The therapists and counselors are confused because they don't know what to do whether it is the teens' rightful choice to get stoned everyday. As parents, we did not bring children to this world to end up as stoned zombies with bloodshot eyes.

If you have a teen, check their wallets for medical marijuana cards, check their room or car for lighters, eye drops for red eyes, check their cell phone history to see their pot circle of friends, etc.

At least get some freaking real pot rehab counselors and therapists for teens or young adults who are serious about treating them from pot dependency. Everywhere we go, everyone's brain went pot. It is freaking hopeless. These parents of medical pot dependent teens have never been so hopeless in their lives.

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Avatar for user 'acresboy'

acresboy | October 14, 2010 at 10:05 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

your staff consists of sissies

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Avatar for user 'Joanne Faryon'

Joanne Faryon, KPBS Staff | October 14, 2010 at 11:42 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Hi acresboy,

We appreciate you wanting to engage in the discussion, however, a KPBS web editor deemed your first comment was off topic.I did see your comment before it was removed. I invite you to try again.

Joanne Faryon

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Avatar for user 'randolphslinky'

randolphslinky | October 14, 2010 at 3:30 p.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

@mjs123 30+ years of spending huge amounts of money and incarcerating people for drug use has not stopped it. I'm not advocating that the use of drugs is going to make you a better or worse person for it, but the methods we have been using for addressing it don't work. There are places in which drugs have been made legal and it was found it really didn't change the amount of drug use. The fact is, some people just aren't interested, and some people will use almost no matter what you do. This is a big country, we have long borders and long coasts, and way too many people to approach this problem the way we have been. Keeping pot illegal is a waste of time, waste of money, and it creates violence through an illegal and lucrative market. It also locks people up who generally are not a threat to society. Those locked up are no longer paying taxes and consuming. If you are going to make something illegal it should be a real threat AND you must be able to enforce it. Marijuana doesn't fall into either of those categories.

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Avatar for user 'hkochii'

hkochii | October 15, 2010 at 7:14 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

I would guess that the 100 politicians that didn't respond are in favor of Prop 19 but as with the vast majority of politicians they won't publically state their real opinions on the drug situation here in America. Openly admitting that Americas failed drug policies need to be changed is political suicide. I've found that if you talk to a member of law enforcement off the record, and one on one, everyone of them will admit our drug policies are a failure and need to be changed. However if you speak to two or more members of law enforcement together they will never admit the same thing.

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Avatar for user 'hkochii'

hkochii | October 15, 2010 at 7:23 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

In the countries where drug usage has been legalized or decriminalized drug usage has changed.In everyone of them usage has dropped. You won't get this data from American organizations that prefer to maintain the fear mongering of drugs, you need to got to the individual countries and get their official data. The statement in a previous poast that, "Netherlands and Portugals number 1 drug policy is to rehabilitate recreational drug users", is incorrect. Rehabilitation is not the number one objective.The number one objective is to separate hard drugs, heroin, cocaine, from what are called soft drugs, marijuana, hashish, mushrooms. Those individuals caught using hard drugs are not thrown in jail as is the policy in America, they are placed in treatment programs which have been shown to be far more effective and less costly to the taxpayers.

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Avatar for user 'smiles2u'

smiles2u | October 19, 2010 at 11:18 a.m. ― 6 years, 4 months ago

Wow I am amazed that in this day and age, to hear adults have such closed minds. Passing judgement on people they know nothing about. Applying labels to people while they themselves make the same choice to use drugs, the only difference is the name of the drug. mjs123 doesn't seem to care about the rampant alcohol abuse going on. She is only worried about the red eyed zombies??? Then Mayor Randy Voepe calling people that use cannabis druggies??? Think he would dare to call people that drink alcoholics? Yet when you look at the two extremes of ABUSE which has a bigger impact on society? The person that smokes pot all day or the person that drinks all day?

I don't condone the ABUSE of any drug, however man has been altering his state of mind for 1000's of years. No one is going to change that, even with prohibition. Look at tobacco use, it has dropped DRAMATICALLY and it didn't take kicking down anyone's doors or throwing anyone in jail. All it took was education and communication.

The tides are changing, people don't like to be lied to, it's clear the government has been lying to it's people. The age of prohibition on cannabis is coming to an end. Perhaps not in 2010 but it's coming, the more people learn the more they realize how non productive prohibition is. You're not stopping anyone from using, you're only making it more lucrative for those providing the drug. You're also giving pushers a chance to push the more profitable and addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Take Cannabis OUT of the Black Market! It's only a gateway drug because it is sold by dealers looking to expand their market.

STOP forcing our youth to DRINK! If one MUST alter their state of mind at least have a less harmful choice on the table.

Don't worry it's just a matter of time before closed minded bigoted people like Mayor Randy Voepe are gone for good. The clock is ticking, a new generation is on it's way.

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