Proposition 19, the California initiative to legalize and tax Marijuana, is an annoying necessity, like having to get out of a nice, warm bed on a cold winter morning to let the cat in. Why are we still having the Puritan debate over Marijuana legalization in California, in 2010?
Smoking pot is a lifestyle; it denotes everything the conservative movement disdains, qualities that they do not possess. Americans may not agree on whether or not we should legalize pot, but they certainly agree that it exists in our society. For today's Baby Boomers it was a rite of passage, as much a fabric of the tapestry of life as frat parties and sweaty makeout sessions in the backseat of a car. The 60s happened, and pot has been a reality ever since.
We elect presidents who openly confess to doing it; we listen to music and see films that speak to a shared experience, a tacit understanding of profound perception shifts, without even batting an eye. Why are people still going to jail because of it?
Opponents of Proposition 19 use exaggerated imagery of spiking crime and "reefer madness" as a way to deny everything that pot smoking represents; its inherent threat to traditional American culture. Their fierce opposition only reinforces the fact that, like in Arizona, American traditionalists are rising up to rabidly resist what they perceive as a wholesale attack on their values. Californians legalized medical Marijuana 14 years ago. It's only logical that full freedom from persecution follows; but Proposition 19's opponents are acting like Proposition 215 never passed. and that there is no such thing as a legal precedent.
Those who so vehemently disagree with the equality that Proposition 19 proposes have the right to abstain from using or associating with people who smoke pot. Surely towns and counties would band together to create "safe zones" for Marijuana use. Not all of California is going to turn into Woodstock. The state has politically divided itself very successfully up to now. Conservative bastions like Orange County coexist with San Francisco, and, while the state legislature may suffer from perpetual gridlock, most Californians manage to carve out their appropriate niches without too much geographical turmoil. Those who don't endorse Proposition 19 can safely congregate, like they do now, without being exposed to the attitudes they deplore; but surely they can all agree that a person's lifestyle preference should be his or hers to freely decide.