Update: more on the emerging schism over marijuana legalization efforts

After having been attacked by the usually reliably libertarian-leaning Chamber of Commerce, proponents of Proposition 19 – an initiative designed to legalize the recreational use of up to one ounce of marijuana for users 21 and older – appeared prepared to rally around a slogan defying both big business and big government as peas in the so-called prohibitionist pod.

But, as it happens, the Chamber’s attack has touched off an inconvenient trend for Proposition 19 – namely, people are reading the bill with an eye to more than its most obvious effects. And given the number of compromises most bills have to go through to get mass support, this sort of scrutiny is sure to drive wedges.  And wedges there are, as the most recent group to jump ship from the Proposition 19 bandwagon appears to be precisely the people it is designed to help – namely, marijuana users. The Fresno Bee has the story: 

     “Meanwhile, the blog for Stoners Against the Proposition 19 Tax Cannabis Initiative features Dragonfly de la Luz, the pen name for a roving marijuana correspondent. She writes that the measure ‘reverses many of the freedoms marijuana consumers currently enjoy, pushes growers out of the commercial market, paves the way for the corporatization of cannabis, and creates new prohibitions where there are none now.’” 

Naturally, the proponent’s supporters have fired back, claiming that the attacks are the product of conspiracy-minded thinking, and that those opposed to the measure on these grounds are making the perfect the enemy of the good.  According to Russ Belville, California coordinator of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the sort of critiques being penned by De La Ruz and other people suspicious of Proposition 19 are “a form of conspiracy-theory thinking embraced by the kind of people who think you could … convince all the world’s scientists and a very large soundstage crew to keep quiet about that faked moon landing.” 

Better reactions could be imagined, but given the rather sharp spike in internal dissent which the pro-Proposition 19 forces have been experiencing, it is no surprise that a certain level of annoyance (if not panic) is making its way into their communications. This is especially problematic given a recent Rolling Stone article, which lays out the manifold ways in which Proposition 19’s full-time opponents are doing their very best to utterly derail the measure: 

     “Allen insists that backers of Prop 19 want to “legalize all drugs,” including crack and Ecstasy, even though such substances will remain illegal if the initiative passes. On his website, he claims that 4,100 congregations support his anti-marijuana position, but he refuses to make the list public. He also boasts of holding three doctorates from Sacramento Theological Seminary, including one in evangelism. He calls Huffman, a longtime civil rights leader in California, ‘Enemy No. 1 to the black church.’” 

There are still advantages in the works for the supporters of the measure – they have some policemen on their side, and a neutral prison guards’ union, both of which will likely play well when it comes time to make the pitch to ambivalent swing voters – but given how much division is beginning to take place, it’s not inconceivable that Proposition 19 could go up in smoke.