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Why the media doesn't want Prop 19 to pass

Nearly all of California's major newspapers are opposing marijuana legalization, says Radley Balko in Reason. What happened to the media's liberal bias?

Though California voters are nearly evenly split on Prop. 19, notes Radley Balko in Reason, the vast majority of the state's daily newspapers — 26 out of 30, including the Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee — are arguing against the proposal to legalize marijuana. This "telling" fact demonstrates that the media, or at least high-profile editorial boards, "don't suffer from liberal bias; they suffer from statism." While liberals favor "lifestyle freedom," says Balko, these editors would appear to prefer the authority of the federal government over individual liberty, "generally opposing any reform that would put significant limits on government power." Here, an excerpt:

Editorial boards' objections to Prop. 19 generally boil down to two arguments: Legalizing pot will 1) increase consumption and 2) intensify the drug policy battle between California and the federal government. The first argument is little more than contempt for individual freedom, and it is particularly revealing when applied to a relatively benign drug like marijuana....

The second argument is equally telling: We can't expand freedom for Californians because doing so would undermine the federal government's authority. This concern was conspicuously absent in the debate between the Bush administration and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over whether California should pass emission standards that exceeded those of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Editorial boards seem to think it's fine to defy the feds if it means giving a state more regulatory power. But defying the feds in a way that gives [the citizens of California] more freedom to make their own decisions about what they put into their bodies? Well, let's not go tipping apple carts.

Read the whole article at Reason.

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