Our survey of California newspaper editorials against Prop. 19 is nearly complete, with this obnoxious-drunk contribution from the third-biggest daily in the state, the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Newspaper: San Diego Union-Tribune
Sophomoric pot joke: Headline: "No to Ganja Madness!"
We-don't-like-the-Drug-War-either-but: At this point, I'm pretty sure these people love the Drug War. Here's the scarequote-tastic lead paragraph: "Proposition 19, the Nov. 2 ballot measure that would legalize the possession, cultivation and transport of marijuana for 'personal use' by adults over 21, and would allow local governments to regulate and tax it, may be the worst drafted legislation since 1996, when Proposition 215 legalized 'medical marijuana.'"
Legal confusion is worse than criminalizing non-violent personal activity: "It would allow every one of California's nearly 480 cities and each of its 58 counties to develop their own regulation and tax schemes for the cultivation, processing, distribution, transportation and sale of marijuana. In San Diego County alone, that could mean 19 separate sets of regulations and taxes – one for the unincorporated areas and one for each of the 18 cities. That provision alone is an invitation to law enforcement chaos."
Bonus random statism: "And, since marijuana would remain illegal under federal law, Proposition 19 would only multiply the legal conflicts that already exist over medical marijuana."
WTF: "None of this even begins to address the debatable questions of whether marijuana is less harmful or more harmful than alcohol or tobacco. As if those answers even matter. Do we really want to legalize yet another substance known to be harmful and, yes, sometimes addictive?"
That's about as overwhelming as the editorial opposition to Proposition 13 back in 1978. All major papers except the now-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner opposed the granddaddy of tax-cutting initiatives, but it passed with 65 percent of the vote.
What papers are left? As best I can reckon The Korea Times, which is in a hard-to-read language (help out, o multilingual commenters!); plus the punching-below-its-weight San Francisco Examiner, the sleepy San Luis Obispo Tribune, and the flagship paper of the most influential libertarian newspaper company in the country, the Orange County Register. The Register today actually came out with its second editorial on the subject of Prop. 19, a good piece refuting several unsound arguments against, but we're still waiting for the definitive vote-yes exhortation.
In the meantime, the largest California daily to support Prop. 19 is no longer the Santa Barbara News-Press, but the 32nd-ranked Victorville Daily Press, which is part of the Register family. Interesting, though hardly surprising, that the two newspaper companies most sneered at by your average California journalist are also the only ones with the guts and basic human decency to back the most significant challenge to the Drug War in more than three decades.