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Voters say no to legalizing marijuana

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Marijuana won’t become a legal, regulated and taxed drug in California in the near future. Voters gave Proposition 19 a decisive no Tuesday night. The measure was losing 56.9 percent to 43.1 percent with approximately 20 percent of the votes tallied at 10:30 p.m. In Placer County, it was trailing 63.6 percent to 36.3 percent. Earlier in the day, local law enforcement officials were taking a wait-and-see approach to legalization. At the Auburn Police Department, Capt. John Ruffcorn said it would be up to the counties and local jurisdictions to decide how it would be applied. “I don’t want to comment on it until our elected city officials get a chance to digest what it means ….” he said. “(If it passed,) our city attorney (would) have to be involved as well as the police department and elected officials. (We’d) have to come up with a type of direction of how the city wants to proceed if (the measure) does pass.” Placer Sheriff’s Department Capt. David Harris said the county would be waiting to see first if the proposition passed. “The attorney general will form an opinion on how it would be applied and we’d look to the Attorney General’s Office for guidance on that,” Harris said. However, if Proposition 19 passed, the first impact would be in the juvenile area in middle school and high schools, he said. “Society’s tacit approval of anything translates down to our kids very quickly,” he said. “Aside from health risks associated with marijuana use, teens and preteens have underdeveloped judgment. When you impair their decision-making, they’re even more likely to make poor choices.” As a father of five children, Jonathan Williams, owner of Auburn Organic Garden Supply, was hoping the measure would fail. “I’m totally against it,” he said. “(Not only for family reasons), but from a business standpoint, I’m against it as well.” Williams’ Grass Valley Highway business carries hydroponics, grow lights and indoor growing solutions in addition to organic gardening supplies. “I think if it really goes through, it will commercialize it to a level that would put me out of business,” he said. “It will get Home Depot and Lowe’s and all of those stores involved.” The exorbitant permitting costs would put growing pot out of reach for most people, he said. A couple of counties have already said they plan to charge $600 per square foot, making the tab $15,000 for a 5-foot-by-5-foot garden, according to Williams. “The person who’s disabled and doesn’t work and depends on marijuana is not going to be able to come up with $15,000 to grow it,” he said. Pat McCartney, a former Auburn resident and longtime marijuana legalization advocate, is very disappointed that Prop. 19 did not pass. “It was probably partly because of the way it was written, but in many respects this was a reply of the Proposition 215 campaign,” he said. “But this time not a single major newspaper in the state endorsed Prop. 19. At least with Prop. 215, there was some editorial support.” Lack of support from major candidates statewide was also a factor, he said. But this is not the end of the campaign for legalization. “There will definitely be an initiative on the 2012 ballot,” McCartney said. “It will be by other activists in the community, probably with more financial support from the drug reform lobby.” Gloria Young fan be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com