Rose's Doug Johnson and Jack Pitney Quoted on Marijuana Initiative

Rose Institute Fellow Doug Johnson and Senior Fellow Jack Pitney were quoted in a recent Contra Costa Times article analyzing a ballot measure to legalize marijuana in California. Pitney and Johnson agreed that the initiative, which recently qualified for the state’s November ballot, will generate much attention.

Johnson said California’s approval of Proposition 215 legalizing medical marijuana in 1996 “definitely surprised me. Few people gave it much of a chance. It surprised a lot of people. And I think as a result of that past surprise, a lot more attention is being paid to this.” He expects “there will be lots of international and national attention as the initiative gets close (to November).”

Johnson also noted that “It will be very interesting to have this on the ballot with Jerry Brown.  And actually that may add support to Brown as marijuana supporters come out. But he will be put in a bad spot. History may lead him to take one position but as the state attorney general I’m interested to see what he does.”

Pitney largely agreed with Johnson. He said that he “wouldn’t bet the rent that it’s going to pass.  Law enforcement will come out against it very strongly. We’ll see a lot of messages tying marijuana use to the use of harder drugs. And even though … it limits it to people over 21, the opponents will point out it will be very easy for younger people to get their hands on it.”

Pitney also observed that in mid-term elections, such as 2010, the average voter is generally older and more conservative. As he put it, “a lot of gray hairs are going to be entering the voting booth in November.” He set aside the notion that baby-boomers who grew up in the 60’s will vote for it, saying that “I’m one of them.  However, I think a lot of us have come to have very different attitudes having families. There’s nothing like having children to turn you into an anti-drug crusader.”

The article concluded with Pitney’s quip that “if it’s a close vote, it might go down because people with the greatest interest will be too stoned to vote.”

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