If Prop 19 Goes Down, Ctd

And it has. A reader writes:

As someone who spent 8 years in the trenches for legalization at the Marijuana Policy Project and still supports it strongly, I have to disagree with you on this. The "medical marijuana scammers who like things the way they are" vote is tiny, in part because intelligent medical cannabis patients have seen growing crackdowns in L.A. and elsewhere, which will accelerate if Republican Steve Cooley is elected Attorney General - a distinct possibility.

The real problem is that the Prop 19 campaign made several fundamental tactical mistakes.

Most of the movement wanted to wait til 2012, as the off-year electorate (even without the Tea Party influence this year) tends to skew older and more conservative - the voters most hostile to marijuana by far - but Rich Lee was sure he knew better than anyone. He went ahead even though he had no idea if he could raise enough money to do a decent TV campaign, which in California runs $2 million+ per week. He didn't, despite a couple last-week cash infusions that were too little and too late.

Most critically, they tried to sell the initiative as something it's not. The campaign's main TV spot (echoing most of the campaign's other materials), says that 19 will tax and regulate marijuana "just like alcohol." That's a transparent lie, which has provided easy fodder for opponents, newspaper editorial writers and others. Alcohol production and sales are governed by statewide standards, statewide taxes, and a statewide agency to police them. Prop 19 does nothing of the sort, leaving everything about commercial sales up to local option. That's an entirely defensible approach, but the sales pitch is obviously, blatantly false. Shockingly enough, many voters do notice these things.