Narrow Victory for Measure B Leaves Mendocino Marijuana Policy In Doubt

June 20, 2008: In final election returns, Mendocino's anti-marijuana Measure B eked out a narrow 52-48% victory. Final results were not announced until over two weeks after the election because 11,000 absentee ballots had to be counted.

California NORML, which supported the No on B campaign, regards the result as a moral victory, given that Measure B had been widely expected to win by a lopsided margin. Pre-election polls had suggested a victory margin of 60 - 65% , leading Measure B proponents to express disappointment at the narrowness of their win.

The final margin was so close that opponents would have won in a general election, where turnout is larger, younger, and more liberally inclined. Marijuana proponents intend to return to the county with more workable proposals for legally regulating the county's marijuana industry.

The No on B campaign succeeded in raising substantial doubts about Measure B, arguing that it in no way addressed the underlying problems of large-scale growers. Measure B repeals Mendocino's Personal Use of Marijuana Initiative, Measure G, passed by an overwhelming 58% of the vote in 2000, but otherwise leaves the county's marijuana policy in doubt, since it seeks to establish the same state limits for marijuana growing that were recently declared unconstitutional in the California appeals court Kelly ruling. Measure B's validity will be subject to two immediate court challenges.

The No on B campaign waged a strong mail, media, and get-out-the-vote campaign. "Everything was stacked against us from the beginning," said No on B campaign director Laura Hamburg. Measure B was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors, with support from the city councils of Willits and Ukiah, the district attorney, the county's leading newspaper and major media, and local development interests upset by the difficulty of paying wages competitive with the marijuana industry. California NORML is proud to have played a leading role in supporting the No on B campaign, along with a devoted core of Mendocino activists, the Mendocino Marijuana Patients Union, and the Mendocino Green Party. Thanks too to the Drug Policy Alliance for their financial support.

Final results: YES 14,577 (52.16%); NO 13369 (47.84%).