MacCoun was one of several authors of a report issued this month by the RAND Corporation that found that legalization could double the use of the drug in California—of the 15 million Americans who regularly use marijuana, the study found, about 1.9 million of them, or 13 percent, are in California—and slash the price by up to 80 percent.
Opponents of Proposition 19 seized on the report as evidence of the potential damage of legalization. They were also cheered by the Field Poll, taken on July 9, which showed that support for the measure had dropped to 44 percent, with 48 percent disapproving, equal to national levels of support for legalization.
The poll found only 40 percent of black voters backing the proposition with 52 percent opposed. But white people are supporting the measure, 48 to 43 percent.
MacCoun cautioned that polls could be deceptive on the issue, because of the longtime stigma surrounding drug use.
“If you get called on the phone, people may be uncomfortable saying that they support a marijuana initiative,” he said. “But for years, I’ve had people come up to me—grown-ups in corporate America—and say to me, sotto voce, ‘If it were up to me, I’d legalize it.’ “
On the ground, meanwhile, Allen and his followers have continued to campaign against the referendum. At a recent rally on the steps of the state capitol here, several pastors used fiery language to rally a small crowd, calling for Ms. Huffman’s resignation, describing marijuana as “the most sinister drug,” and asking that “the demonic spirits be cast back into hell.”
“How stupid to think that by legalizing a vice it’s going to help the situation,” said Darryl B. Heath, pastor of St. John Baptist Missionary Baptist Church in Sacramento. “This is not a game. A whole generation is at stake.”
For her part, Huffman shows no signs of backing off her support for the proposition, saying her critics “have got their heads in the sand” when it comes to the reality of drug use, and enforcement, in America.
She also scoffed at the notion that she would bend to their calls for her resignation.
“Why in the world would I allow a bunch of locals who don’t amount to anything run me out of office?” she said. “When they come up with a solution, they can look me up.”