Should California voters pass Proposition 19? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Should California voters pass Proposition 19?

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With voters heading to the polls just days from now, the controversy continues over the legalization of marijuana in California.

A new poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute finds California voters oppose the proposition, which would legalize marijuana for recreational use, by 49 to 44 percent. A previous poll released last month found that 52 percent of likely voters supported the proposition.

If passed on November second, Proposition 19 would allow adults 21 and over in California to possess up to one ounce of pot and to grow marijuana in gardens up to 25 square feet on private property.

Local governments would decide whether to allow and tax sales of the drug.

At a forum sponsored by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on Wednesday evening, Prop 19 opponents argued it would increase local crime and decrease public safety.

"What it will do is, it will increase youth use rates," said John Redman, director of Communities in Action.

"Marijuana is extraordinarily common as a secondary and a primary substance in drugged driving," added deputy District Attorney Sophia Roach. "Drugged driving and the fatalities associated with it are a scourge on our community."

But supporters of Prop 19 say those claims are exaggerated.

"We have to stop treating people like criminals for making this choice," said Danesh Tandon, Deputy Public Defender. "They are making a choice about a substance that is far less dangerous than a lot of other choices they can make out there."

Proponents also argued legalizing pot would generate tax revenue and free up more law enforcement resources to address more severe crimes.

The federal government has made clear that it intends to enforce anti-drug laws in all states including California, even if Proposition 19 passes.

"It is not going to solve the economic problems of the state, it is not going to reduce violence in Mexico and it is certainly not going to reduce criminal justice costs," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy.

A group of former chiefs of the Drug Enforcement Administration has called on the Obama administration to sue California if Prop 19 passes.

Incidentally, both candidates for governor, Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown, say they oppose the proposition.

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