Voters in California rejected a ballot measure on November 2 that would have made theirs the first state to legalize marijuana. But Jodie Emery, a Vancouver resident who’s a leading member of the legalization movement, told the Straight she doesn’t see the defeat at the polls as a failure.
“It was a huge step forward—the fact that it was taken seriously, that the debate did take place, that mainstream media covered it on a regular basis, and that we got all of our arguments and points out there,” she said by phone from Oakland.
Proposition 19—or the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010—failed in a vote that went 46.1 for and 53.9 percent against.
Emery, the wife of Marc Emery—who is serving a five-year sentence in a U.S. federal prison for selling marijuana seeds—maintained that the “yes” campaign did everything right. She argued that the measure failed as a result of a powerful push from groups that profit from the prohibition of marijuana.
“There were a lot of growers and dispensary owners who were telling their medical-marijuana patients that they were going to lose their rights and just spreading a lot of misinformation,” Emery said. “Really, it was just to protect their own profits.”
Emery argued that the legalization of marijuana in California would likely have translated into a decrease in violent crime in British Columbia. “It would have reduced the price of marijuana so much that the gangs in B.C. wouldn’t have been able to compete,” she said.
At the same time, Emery continued, Canada’s Conservative government is intensifying efforts to combat marijuana cultivation and distribution with heavy-handed law-enforcement tactics. “And there are numerous studies that show that when prohibition is more strictly enforced, that drug violence gets worse and the cartels make more money,” she said. “So with the Conservative government’s current campaign, we’re going to see the situation in Canada worsen.”
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