Gov. Schwarzenegger joins opposition to Calif.'s marijuana initiative


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the newest voice opposing a ballot initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana in the state, although a new poll — the third in a week — shows Californians favoring the proposal.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times in which he criticized a major state union — the Service Employees International Union —  for endorsing the initiative, known as Proposition 19. If passed, Prop 19 would make California the first state to legalize the growth, sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Individuals would be able to grow their own marijuana and possess up to one ounce of it. Local governments would be able to tax it; the state would not collect any money.

California's Democratic attorney general, Jerry Brown, opposes Prop 19, as do the state's two U.S. senators, both Democrats. The Republican nominees for governor and U.S. senator also oppose it.

"Any patrol officer, judge or district attorney will tell you that Proposition 19 is a flawed initiative that would bring about a host of legal nightmares and risks to public safety," Schwarzenegger wrote in the Times Sept. 24. "It would also make California a laughingstock."

The Los Angeles Times' editorial board, Sept. 24, urged a "no" vote on Prop 19.

"[I]t would put employers in a quandary by creating a protected class of on-the-job smokers, bestowing a legal right to use marijuana at work unless employers could actually prove that it would impair an employee's job performance," the L.A. Times editorial board wrote. "Employers would no longer have the right to screen for marijuana use or discipline a worker for being high. But common sense dictates that a drug-free environment is crucial at too many workplaces to name — schools, hospitals, emergency response and public safety agencies, among others."

Also opposing Prop 19 is the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California State Sheriff's Association, the California District Attorneys Association and the California Police Chiefs Association.

Despite the opposition from key leaders, three recent polls show California's likely voters favoring Prop 19. It led 49-42 in a Field Poll released Sept. 26. A SurveyUSA had it ahead 47-42 percent, while a Public Policy Polling poll had it up 47-38.

Unlike many recent high-profile ballot initiatives in California, virtually no television ads have been aired either for or against Prop 19.

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