Which is it going to be, California?
While some research shows that the battle over legalizing pot is growing in intensity, other research shows that it's losing interest in the eyes of voters. The only thing that's certain right now is that nothing is certain.
Legalization advocates were jolted recently when new polls showed the measure losing by a slight margin. That's a reversal of an earlier trend that had Prop 19 winning by a slim margin. But those numbers may be deceptive: yet more polling indicates that voters are more likely to favor legalization if asked by automated calls, which adds an additional level of unpredictability.
Prop 19 joins a variety of races this year that are too close to call, including the governor's race, senate races, and the lieutenant governor's race.
Those favoring prohibition claim that the measure would violate public safety, though they can't exactly explain how, since so many Californians already smoke pot and use more dangerous substances, such as alcohol. The chief danger appears to be the federal government, which boasted that it would continue to enforce antiquated blue-laws banning the use of cannabis.
Neither side in the Prop 19 fight has raised much money. The pro-pot side has nearly $3 million while the anti-pot side has about a quarter million. Nothing to sneeze at, but only just barely enough to mount a widespread PR push in the last days before the election.
Meanwhile, a new study shows a racial bias in arrests for pot possession. Arrests for low-level offenses disproportionately affect minorities at a rate approaching 12 times that of whites in some cities.