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Prop. 19 up against GOP, Democratic leadership opposition

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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While Democrats and Republicans are battling for the hearts, minds and votes of Californians in several key races, they’ve joined together to defeat Prop. 19. Practically every politician – including rivals in marquee races for governor and Senate – have urged defeat of the marijuana legalization measure. Polls ahead of Tuesday’s vote suggest the measure is trailing but the outcome could still be close. If passed, the measure would allow adults age 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow 25-square-foot pot gardens for personal use. It would also authorize county and city governments to regulate and tax commercial cultivation and sales. Some Auburn voters are lining up with gubernatorial front-runners. Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman oppose Prop. 19, as do Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and her GOP rival, Carly Fiorina. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has weighed in for the Obama administration, vowing to “vigorously enforce” federal laws against marijuana possession and distribution even if Prop. 19 passes. Supporters of Prop. 19 say the political leaders lack the courage to acknowledge that the war on drugs is flawed. “The truth is marijuana prohibition has utterly failed,” said Stephen Gutwillig, state director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Banning outright this widely available substance has only fueled a massive black market and enriched the increasingly brutal criminal syndicates that control it.” Auburn’s Greg Barber said he’ll be voting against Prop. 19. “As far as taxation goes, government shouldn’t rely on something that’s illegal,” Barber said. Casey Conway, who owns a vending machine business in Auburn, said he’ll be voting “no” on Prop. 19 because it will be “opening a can of worms.” Conway and Auburn’s Dave Cox said they both usually vote “no” on all ballot propositions. “It’s just overkill,” Cox said. “The government is totally out of control in growth and spending,” Conway said. Prop. 21 – which would institute an $18 fee on annual vehicle registration to support state parks – is another much discussed ballot measure in California. Barber said he agrees with the concept of supporting parks but not the idea of charging drivers. “What about those who people who don’t drive?” Barber said. “And what about the money now wasted in the current budget?” Leila Monroe, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, blogged earlier this month that Prop. 21 amounts to a great deal for Californians because it would mean free admission to all parks for registered vehicles throughout the state. The Associated Press contributed to this story.