SACRAMENTO- To date, the "Yes on Prop 19" campaign has out spent the "No on Prop 19" campaign by millions of dollars. But that hasn't swayed voters according to latest polls.
So far, Prop 19 supporters have raised $3.8 million. Prop 19 opponents have raised $300,000.
Among the prominent Prop 19 supporters: billionaire financier George Soros, the retired Police Chief of San Jose, and celebrities Danny Glover and Melissa Etheridge Among those who oppose Prop 19: Public Safety First--the main opposition campaign, state law enforcement groups, and the California Chamber of Commerce. "One of the lessons of this campaign is money doesn't necessarily buy votes," said Sacramento State Government Studies Professor Kimberly Nalder.
The latest field poll out on Proposition 19 shows Californians appear to be against legalizing pot for recreational use. Right now the "no's" stand at 49 percent. The "yes's" have 42 percent -- with 9 percent undecided.
Professor Nalder explained what turned the tide against Prop 19 in recent weeks.
"I think there was a real turn-around that happened once the federal government announced it would enforce the laws even if it were legalized here in this state," Nalder said.
A big draw of early support for Prop 19 was the proposal to tax recreational marijuana.
Supporters of Prop 19 said tax revenues could raise as much as $1 billion for state coffers.
Given California's $19 billion budget deficit, some voters believe legalizing marijuana could be a viable source of revenue for a cash-starved state.
"That has been undermined once people look into the details," said Nalder. "What they'll find is a murky legal situation (if we passed it.)"
"I'm totally for the legalization of cannabis," said "John" with J Street Wellness medical marijuana dispensary in Sacramento. "I'm against Prop 19 for the wording. What I'm against is the craftily written initiatives to get cannabis legalized that are meant to help other interests."
If voters approve Prop 19 on November 2nd, then Californians ages 21 and older will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of cannabis, and cultivate the plant on a plot of land up to two square feet in size.
It would also allow cities and counties to tax marijuana.
In 1996, California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use.
Prop 19 may have seemed like a good idea to some people in the beginning, but more people are taking a second look and urging others to do the same.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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