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Comedian Lights Up; Prop 19 goes up in smoke?

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November 2, 2010

By Joseph Kastner


Zack Galifianakis lighting up a joint on Real Time with Bill Maher

With one long drag on a joint, did the last remnants of support for California Proposition 19 go up in a puff of smoke on cable television? That is precisely the question being asked following an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher in which comedian Zack Galifianakis lit up a joint during filming of the program.[1] This marks the second time in two weeks that Galifianakis, best known for his starring role in The Hangover and the upcoming Due Date with Robert Downey Jr., has been embroiled in controversy; he reportedly was the instigator of efforts that resulted in Mel Gibson losing his cameo appearance in The Hangover 2.

Perhaps the more pertinent question that needs to be asked is whether this latest publicity stunt for the marijuana ballot initiative has done more harm then good? From April to September of this year, public support for the ballot measure could have easily been used to deflect criticism of the comedian’s act or turn this incident into a positive. That is no longer the case as of Election Day. Four straight polls in October, including the latest from Field Research, has demonstrated a near 180 degree turn in the public’s opinion of the ballot proposition.[2] One reason for this precipitous drop in support may be that “the Obama administration has voiced its opposition to the measure” and that the federal Justice Department will vigorously enforce national drug laws even if the measure passed.[3]

Time will tell this evening. If Proposition 19 does fail at the ballot box, however, you would be hard pressed to find a more fitting metaphor of how this measure has petered out.

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