California's Proposition 19 has become something of a national obsession, since no other state has gone this far toward legalizing marijuana. Prop 19 would make it legal, as far as California is concerned, for anyone over 21 to possess and grow a small amount of pot, and let local governments opt to license and tax commercial marijuana production. Poll guru Nate Silver gives it "about even odds of passing." Here, commentators call the coin toss: Will voters approve Prop 19? (Watch a Fox News discussion about Prop 19's chances)
The polls are undercounting the youth vote: Polls show support for Prop 19 is slipping, says Ed Kilgore in The New Republic, but nobody's taking those numbers at face value. An astounding 94 percent of likely voters under 30 know about Prop 19, and that group is both pro-pot and hard to poll. And given the likely "stoner Bradley Effect" — people unwilling to tell pollsters they support legalization — "no one should be that astonished if Proposition 19 passes."
The market is bullish on pot: The Socionomics Institute, which tries to predict social change by looking at the stock market, says the environment is ripe for pot legalization, according to Maia Szalavitz in Time. Prohibition scholar Daniel Okrent shares that view. Both argue that in dour economic times people care more about taxing drugs than banning them — and both "put their money" on Prop 19 passing.
"Bullish or bearish on Prop 19?"
George Soros just bet a million on it passing: Other extremely "successful and cerebral" donors to the pro–Prop 19 side include top dogs at Google and Facebook, says Brittney Barrett in World Market Media. More than their money, these overachieving donors are disproving Prop 19 opponents' claims that "stoner" culture kills ambition and, by extension, success — and that pot supporters are "a bunch of lazy liberals" likely to stay home Nov. 2.
"How the extraordinary stoner is helping Prop 19"
The Soros cash drop smacks of desperation: "Soros has long been a backer of pro-pot issues," but giving $1 million a week before the election signals "a sense of panic" more than a show of support, says Kevin Fagan in the San Francisco Chronicle. The pro–Prop 19 side already had more money and just started running TV ads, but as the anti–Prop 19 groups note, the more supporters spend, the worse their poll numbers get.
"George Soros gives $1 million to Prop 19 campaign"
Californians are sobering up: What polls are showing is that the floor under Prop 19 has "more or less collapsed," says Michael Tomasky in The Guardian. Personally, I think this is "an experiment worth trying," but the "sober judgment of Californians" is what counts, and there are more reasons that just the "whiff of Reefer Madness overreaction" to vote no.
"California won't go to pot"
Prop 19 has too many flaws to pass: A good marijuana legalization measure would raise tax revenue, reduce crime, and rid us of a "commonly flouted" law, says Robert Cyran in Reuters. "Half-baked" Prop 19 "is unlikely to accomplish any of those beneficial goals," and that is why it is going down. The best hope is that it "might start a grown-up dialogue" in Washington about legalization, but even that's "a pipe dream."
"California's weed revenue may go up in smoke"