Coalitions in Action: Californians Keep Marijuana Measures off November Ballot
For almost 20 years, CADCA member coalitions in California have been diligently working to dissolve the dispensaries that sell “medical” marijuana and prevent youth from ever using the drug. Narrowly defeating a marijuana legalization ballot measure, Proposition 19 two years ago, the coalitions, especially those in San Diego County, mobilized and advocated around the issue once again. This time, however, drug prevention groups have achieved remarkable success is ensuring that all six marijuana measures are not on the ballot for their fellow citizens to vote on this November.
None of the marijuana legalization or expansion of the current “medical” marijuana system measures received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, said John Redman, Executive Director of Californians for Drug-Free Youth (CADFY), the state’s oldest anti-drug coalition, in a news release.
“After 16 years of experimenting with de facto legalization, the majority of Californians who don’t smoke marijuana have realized that more marijuana availability isn’t good for our kids or our state,” he said.
Coalitions across the state have worked at the local level to limit, regulate, and outright ban marijuana dispensaries since the state became the first in the country to legalize the drug for “medicinal” purposes, documenting the correlation between increased access and youth use. Most recently, the Los Angeles City Council made national news by voting to ban all marijuana storefronts.
Initiatives 1516, 1518, 1524 and 1544 would have essentially legalized marijuana, whereas initiatives 1571 and 1579 would have expanded medical marijuana and legalized industrial hemp.
Prevention and youth advocates feared these initiatives would have further increased drug use rates and treatment for marijuana in the state, Redmond said.
According to the California Healthy Kids Survey, marijuana use by San Diego high school juniors jumped from 13 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2009. In fact, more youth are in treatment for marijuana than for any other drug.
High school students from San Diego’s Latino Youth Council, part of the Cinco de Mayo con Orgullo coalition, said their efforts have centered on protecting kids from easy access to marijuana.
Adriana Rodriguez, Secretary of the Latino Youth Council, observed, “My friends and I are focused on getting good grades so we can go to college. We know using marijuana is harmful, but some kids think it’s cool.”
"Since all six of pro-marijuana initiatives failed to qualify for the ballot due to lack of signatures, it appears that our efforts are working,” said Aaron Byzak, President of the Vista, California based North Coastal Prevention Coalition.
"Our principle aim has always been to engage in a robust discussion with the community— especially students and parents— about the dangers associated with marijuana use. We have teamed with our prevention partners across the county to ensure that people have access to up-to-date information, that pro-marijuana messages are countered or eliminated, and that it is impossible to set up marijuana dispensaries in our neighborhoods,” Byzak said.