Drug War

Anti-Prop. 19 Editorials Update; Lord's Burning Rain Edition


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.

Better San Diegans

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?"

Of the top 30 California dailies now, at least 26 have editorialized on Prop. 19, with each and every one of the 26 against. As Cato's David Boaz pointed out the other day,

So pretty when it burns….

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.

Previous Prop. 19 editorial-blogging: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Meanwhile, this song and video feel strangely appropriate:

NEXT: Mad Men Through the Looking Glass

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  1. Do we really want to legalize yet another substance known to be harmful and, yes, sometimes addictive?

    You mean like alcohol?

    1. Harmful and addictive??? Where are you getting your information from? Name one person or point us all out to proof that poeple have died from marijuana use. Tabacco and Alcohol kill poeple.

  2. I will make the editors of the San Diego Union Tribune a bet. I will smoke an ounce of marijuana a day. And each one of them can drink a bottle of scotch or the hard liquor of their choice a day. Lets see who gets addicted and who dies first.

    1. John, no offense, but not even I could smoke an ounce of weed in a day. At least not if it is good shit.

      1. Mistyped that one. “Quarter of an Ounce” every day.

        1. That’s doable.

  3. “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.”

    As opposed to the uniform property tax scheme found in San Diego county?
    Fucking idiots.

    1. No shit. Since when did complicated, inconsistent, and conflicting regulations EVER stop a journalist from being in favor of a policy?

  4. “Do we really want to legalize yet another substance known to be harmful and, yes, sometimes addictive?”

    So pretty much if they could get away with it, I take it the writers of this would make liquor, tobacco, and caffeine illegal as well. I guess in their view we should be glad we aren’t having our front doors kicked down and our pets shot in no knock espresso raids.

    1. No you misunderstand them. They’re not looking for logical consistency, they’re defending arbitrary distinctions as if they have intrinsic value. Not one of these papers would editorialize in favor of alcohol prohibition. Slaves to the status quo have no problems with contradiction.

      1. Is it just that they fear change? I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this, but I just can’t grok their motivation.

        1. I have the same confusion. I have no doubt that the writers of these things are overwhelmingly politically and socially liberal. I bet all of them have used pot at one time or another and a good number of them still use it today at least once in a while. So why won’t they come out for legalization? I have a theory. I think they are just unbelievable elitists who think they are capable of handling pot but no one else is. And they also know that no matter how much they smoke the chances of them being arrested for it or suffering any real consequences are close to nil.

          Basically their view boils down to “under the current system those who are responsible smoke quietly in peace while to cops go out and keep the rest of the animals in line.”

          If you really want to turn the country against prohibition, stop picking on poor people. Go hard after the middle class. Start running under cover operations in newsrooms and law firms. And when you catch the middle or upper class user, send him to a real pound you in the ass prison for a serious sentence. Voters would put an end to prohibition real quick then. As long as it is only poor people who are being affected, this kind of attitude will continue.

          1. They are statists above all else, and this proposition decreases the number of ways the state can punish people for their behavior.

            By conflicting with federal law, it also challenges their perception that state and local governments only exist to be a distribution for federal money and that states rights are only important to racists.

          2. It’s much simpler than you’re making it. If you come out for something frivolous (i.e. a non-“addictive” recreational “drug”), then you’re being frivolous. And one thing a newspaper can’t afford being seen as is frivolous.

        2. The newspapers’ position is logical if they are indeed the propaganda arm of the Democratic party. The media doesn’t want to embarass the Democrats, since the latter for numerous reasons oppose the legalization. This is my most cynical explanation.

          1. I think this is it. Marijuana is just a single issue for them, even if they privately disagree, it’s nowhere near as important as promoting their (political) side.

      2. It is just a stupid and lazy way to argue. You could make the case that we have to draw the line somewhere and the status quo is the best place. But to do that you would have to make the case the marijuana is in anyway more addictive or dangerous than alcohol. And that would require effort and thought on their part that is clearly beyond their capability. So better just to make a an arbitrary assertion.

        1. You’re absolutely right. Upper-lower-middle class types like myself don’t really lose or gain all that much from prohibition. My chance of getting caught is vanishingly small.

          This is why it’s so hard for these editors to remove their heads from their colons.

  5. What do newspapers do, again? Come on, all you J-school authority-questioners, help me out.

    If Craigslist opens a local news section, those guys will dry up and blow away.

    1. Until the feds force them to close said section.

    2. Oh man, cold you imagine Craigslist obituaries?


  6. Juanita would love this. Wonder why she hasn’t posted on this thread yet… maybe she’s beating her dog or something.

  7. It is astonishing to me just how utterly dumb these editors, publishers, and reporters are. Do you think they really believe these stated positions, or is it just cowardly posturing?

    1. I would imagine that it is mostly pandering to their dead tree subscription customer base.

      1. Grumpy octagenarians who can’t use a computer…

    2. I think there are plenty of people who are indeed that stupid, but yeah the stunning unanimity makes you wonder. You have to think that, statistically speaking, ~50% of the staff who give their implied consent to this crap are going to vote “yes” on election day.

    3. It’s cowardly posturing. The exact same behavior is present is newspapers’ Mohammaed Cartoons editorials.

  8. Mojo. How’s your tallywackerrrrrr?

    1. Don Henley Must Die. Mojo deserves a thank your from a grateful nation for expressing that much held but never fully articulated sentiment.

      1. You know my mah mah mama loves to screewwwwwww!!

    2. I miss Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper. Got all their CDs. The post-Skid Mojo was not as good, and not sure what he’s doing.

      1. He’s DJing on Sirius/XM satellite radio, among other things. Doesn’t have to worry about the FCC that way.

  9. I spent the first 21 years of my life in San Diego, and would expect nothing less from the Union-Tribune. This is, after all, the same paper that printed ‘expos?s’ in the mid-1980s about the Rising Tide Of Satanism among teenagers… You know, heavy metal and punk rock fans. My friends and I never knew whether to laugh or cry over their gibberish.

    1. I saw a documentary about that recently, it was called “lost boys” or something. Personally I’d rather have potheads than vampires, good riddance.

    2. Yeah, the U-T is the worst of all worlds: social conservatism, tax-and-spend statism, and stupidity.

      1. The UT has endorsed every bad thing that ever happened in San Diego. They were even in favor of raising pensions for work already performed while diverting pension fund contributions into sports stadiums.

  10. but we’re still waiting for the definitive vote-yes exhortation.

    Newspapers are afraid of Muslims and the DEA. You know, terrorist organizations.

      1. +1, and raise +1

  11. “Do we really want to legalize yet another substance known to be harmful and, yes, sometimes addictive?”

    Uh, chocolate…gateway substance…to milky ways, snickers, baby ruths, fudge, brownies, brownies with marijuana, milkshakes (which apparently actually means teenage punetang), cake (which apparently actually mean booty), etcetera.
    If only we had prohibited this gateway substance, we would have so, so fewer fat people, which costs the US 73 gabilliontillionzillion dollars in scooter costs monthly.

    1. And don’t get me started on Doritos…

  12. Pretty good editorial on prop 19 via CNN.


    1. Yeah Miron is good shit.

      “In a free society, the presumption must be that people can smoke, snort, eat or inject whatever they wish, so long as they do not harm others. The burden of proof should rest on those who would ban marijuana, not those who want it legal. That burden has never been met.”

      That should be the only argument required.

      1. Close, but this is what I hate about academics and other so-called intellectuals. They never — or so rarely as to be effectively never — out and out say, “No, this is wrong.” What we get instead is half-hearted sermons about presumptions and burdens of proof.

        1. I wouldn’t call it half-hearted. It’s hard to read the above quoted passage and not think Miron considers prohibition wrong. In fact, it’s a pretty straight-up moral case he’s making there; “burden of proof” is not an especially specific legal term or anything.

  13. This is what I’d like to see in each of those papers’ “letters to the editor” section:

    Dear Sir or Madam-

    Assuming you have children of your own (if not, please use any well-regarded nieces, nephews, or neighborhood urchins as a proxy), ask yourself this question, and report back to us truthfully:

    Would that person be better off in jail than to smoke pot?

    It’s a simple question, and it deserves an honest yes or no answer.

    Yrs, et c

    1. I’d love to get a chance to ask President Obama whether he thinks it would have been better for him if he’d been arrested for his drug use in his younger years.

      I’d like to ask Bill Clinton and George W. Bush the same question as well, since both admit former drug use yet (AFAIK) support prohibition.

      1. Hell ask someone relevant, ask Obama. So, Mr. President back when you were shooing hoops and doing a little blow, do you think your life would have been improved by going to jail for your crimes the way millions of other young black men do? I would give anything to see his face after that question.

      2. I beleive Bus was arrested.

    2. Would that person be better off in jail than to smoke pot?

      Or shot in a dispute because black market disputes are solved with guns not lawsuits.

  14. I just want to say Korean is very easy to read. It’s perfectly phonetic, there are only about 24 letters, and the letter-forms are cleverly mnemonic. It takes about a half-hour to learn.

    1. Thanks for volunteering to search the Korea Times website for Prop. 19 editorials!

  15. So how would you say ‘Suck my balls, bitch?’ in Korean?

  16. Jeffe I hereby call on you, as the EOC of the most influential libertarian monthly to call up the most influential libertarian daily and tell them to get that endorsement out stat.

    1. EOC meaning, Editor Orange Chief.

  17. The Editorial Board of the Desert Sun claims there is evidence that marijuana causes “suicidal ideation”

  18. The Editorial Board of the Desert Sun claims there is evidence that marijuana causes “suicidal ideation”

  19. Not telling you anything you don’t already know, but the San Diego Tribune, along with (many) (white) residents of San Diego County are pretty much the last people in America that still think George Bush jr did a heckuva fine job.

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