Election 2010: No legal pot – Proposition 19 fails, along with 21, 23 | SierraSun.com

Election 2010: No legal pot – Proposition 19 fails, along with 21, 23

Greyson Howard and Kyle Magin
Sun News Service

NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. – California voters said no thanks to a ballot initiative that would have made theirs the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use and sales.

Proposition 19, rejected Tuesday, would have made it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, smoke the drug in nonpublic places and grow it in private plots.

“We in law enforcement are very pleased this initiative failed,” said Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal. “This was very poorly written and would have been a nightmare for us to deal with.”

The proposed law also would have authorized local governments to permit commercial pot cultivation and sales – and their costs to the state.

Proponents pitched the measure as a source of tax revenue and a sensible experiment for reducing marijuana-related arrests and crime.

“In view of the 30-year campaign of the war on drugs, I think (the support for Proposition 19) is an amazing testament to California,” said Nevada City defense attorney Steve Munkelt. “They put on a pretty darn good showing.”

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Support for the initiative shows a change is needed in the approach to marijuana use and marijuana laws, Munkelt added.

“We keep throwing billions at it, and… we’re not going to see different results,” Munkelt said.

Royal disagreed.

“There are some people in Nevada County who hide behind medical marijuana as a way to do business,” Royal said. “But when we go into most of these gardens, probably nine times out of 10 we walk out of there without finding a problem. It’s not a perfect system, but it works most of the time.”

A ballot initiative primarily funded by Texas oil companies seeking to suspend California’s landmark climate law has failed.

Proposition 23 would have delayed greenhouse gas regulations until California’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent and stayed there for a year. Unemployment in California is now at 12.4 percent.

“I think this shows California voters decisively saying they want to invest in a clean energy economy and a clean energy future, and that’s fantastic,” said Sierra Business Council President Steve Frisch. “The campaign for it was run based on fear of lost jobs, but Californians said this is how to rebuild and that’s what we need to do now.”

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, environmentalists and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs had warned that passing the initiative Tuesday would derail a growing investment in alternative-energy technology in California.

The state’s 2006 climate law, known as AB32, is one of the Republican governor’s key environmental accomplishments.

Assemblyman and state Sen.-elect Dan Logue (R-Linda), a strong supporter of 23, categorized the initiative’s loss as class warfare.

“The working families of California were outspent by the ruling class 3 to 1,” Logue said. “The public did not get the full picture of this initiative. People will see their energy bills go up by 60 percent and we’re going lose one million jobs because of this. In two years the people will wake up and see what happened and do something about this.”

California voters have rejected an $18 surcharge on motor vehicle registration fees to shore up the state park system.

Proponents of the measure sought the levy to compensate for state funding cutbacks to California’s state parks. Conservationists and the tourism industry said maintaining and restoring the parks is vital to keep visitors coming to the Golden State.

Virginia Brunini, who played a key role in getting the Empire Mine designated a state historic park, said she was disappointed.

“I’m obviously disappointed but not too terribly surprised. I didn’t feel it was promoted right – we were in a tsunami of no new taxes and it felt that way to some people,” Brunini said. “Now we just have to put pressure on our local legislators to keep our parks secure.”

Sixty parks were partially closed over the last year with another 90 suffering service reductions.

Opponents decried another fee foisted on citizens, especially one totally unrelated to the service.

Voters were rejecting the measure by a margin of 60 percent to 40 percent, with 21 percent of precincts reporting.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.