Cannabis-User Opposition to Prop 19
California’s Prop 19, the initiative to legalize personal marijuana use and cultivation within specified limits, lost with 46% of the popular vote. The campaign drew national attention and resistance from the opponents of marijuana law reform. Familiar supporters of marijuana prohibition and imprisonment of its cultivators included law enforcers like LA County Sheriff Lee Baca and District Attorney Steve Cooley, anti-drug agencies like the California Narcotics Officers Association and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the “drug czar”), and politicians from both parties, including Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and Governor-Elect Jerry Brown and their Republican challengers Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman.
Unexpected resistance to Prop 19 came from some who use, grow, and sell marijuana. This opposition, referred to as “Stoners Against Legalization” in an August 25, 2010, piece in Oakland’s East Bay Express, claimed to support legalization, but not the version offered by Prop 19 that allowed for personal possession of one ounce and cultivation of a 25 square foot home garden.
California’s Prop 215 has led to a flourishing market in medical marijuana dispensaries and doctors that specialize in medical marijuana recommendations. Some of these “cannabusinesses” used their funds to actively campaign against Prop 19 within their businesses and in public, such as:
The campaign against Prop 19 by its cannabis-using opponents took to the California hemp exposition circuit throughout the summer. At April’s International Cannabis & Hemp Expo held at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, Prop 215 icon Dennis Peron paid to place anti-Prop 19 flyers on cars in the parking lot while attorney Jennifer Soares engaged Prop 19 Spokesperson Dale Jones and this writer in a polite debate of the proposition. All summer long, cannabis events were picketed and leafleted by No on Prop 19 protestors whose funding sources are not revealed in California’s campaign finance databases. By September a debate at the California Cannabis Expo (also at the Cow Palace) was disrupted by the heckling, booing, and chanting of No on Prop 19 protestors, led by freelance cannabis writer and TV personality Dragonfly de la Luz (Cannabis Culture, 9/27/2010).
At the latter debate, CannaCare owner Lanette Davies represented the No on Prop 19 side, standing with Bishop Ron Allen, who claimed passing Prop 19 would lead to “more drug babies” (LA Times, 7/8/2010). Another anti-Prop 19 voice to be found at the summer’s events was attorney Letitia Pepper, who appeared as a speaker and distributed thousands of flyers against the measure.