California voters rejected a ballot measure that would make their state the first in the union to legalize the personal use and possession of marijuana. The measure was one of 160 ballot proposals being decided in 37 states.
Under the pot-legalization proposal - Proposition 19 on the state ballot - adults 21 and over could possess up to an ounce of pot, consume it in nonpublic places as long as no children were present and grow it in small private plots, according to Dallas Morning News.
"This has been a watershed moment," said Stephen Gutwillig, the California director for the Drug Policy Alliance, which waged an extensive ad campaign for the measure. "Even in defeat, Proposition 19 has moved marijuana legalization into the mainstream of American politics."
Tuesday's vote was just the first round, say legalization advocates, who are aiming measures at the 2012 ballot in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and very likely California. But it's also the second time in two years that California voters have rejected an initiative to soften penalties for drug crimes.
"The cover of the book looked nice, but it didn't read very well," said Roger Salazar, the spokesman for the opposition campaign. "This specific initiative was massively flawed."
Richard Lee, the medical marijuana entrepreneur who spearheaded the initiative and spent $1.5million on the historic campaign, pledged to work with the initiative's critics to draft a new one, Los Angeles Times reports.