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Californians Reject Legalization Of Marijuana

Jars full of medical marijuana are seen at Sunset Junction medical marijuana dispensary on May 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian
Jars full of medical marijuana are seen at Sunset Junction medical marijuana dispensary on May 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
Californians Reject Legalization Of Marijuana
Californians rejected legalizing marijuana yesterday, as Proposition 19 was easily defeated at the polls.

It was the cliche line of the night - Proposition 19 went up in smoke as voters rejected legalizing marijuana in California.

The author of Proposition 19 conceded defeat as early results showed the initiative trailing by more than 10 percent two hours after the polls closed.

November 2010 Election Results

The Marijuana State

“And so, while we didn’t bring in enough votes tonight to pass Prop. 19, we know that we have achieved an enormous moral victory, and that there are millions of people across the country who are prepared to help finish the job they started here today when we come back to the polls stronger than ever in 2012," Prop. 19 author Richard Lee said in a statement.

Prop. 19 would have allowed possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, and given cities and counties the power to regulate and tax commercial marijuana sales.

The proposition was the brainchild of cannabis activist Lee, a 47-year-old libertarian in Oakland. Lee also founded Oaksterdam University, a quasi-college that offers courses in marijuana cultivation and harvesting, as well as the politics of marijuana.

“I always thought if alcohol is advertised and legal on television then cannabis should be legal, too. It’s hypocritical and unfair to lock people up for cannabis and not alcohol," Lee told KPBS in September.

The proposition had been leading in polls as recently as late September, but support began declining closer to election day.

Here in San Diego County, several elected officials expressed opposition to Proposition 19, including the entire County Board of Supervisors and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

Dumanis said even those who want to legalize pot in California didn’t like this proposition because it left regulation up to cities and counties rather than the state.

“When they took a look at it they saw this was not the vehicle to do it," Dumanis said.

Dumanis says recent changes to the law which decriminalized marijuana in California also contributed to Prop 19’s demise.

Dumanis said the initiative was poorly written.

Under the proposition, cities and counties would have decided whether they wanted to license recreational pot dispensaries and/or grow and sell pot on a large scale. They could also tax sales of weed.

The underground pot market is estimated to be worth $14 billion, making the prospect of legalization and taxation attractive to some local governments.

Story continues below.

Credit: Andie Adams, Melody Karpinski, Kimberlee Kruesi, Christina Maggiora.

The city of Oakland, for example, has already approved the large scale production of medical marijuana, which promises to create hundreds of new jobs and generate millions in tax revenue.