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For the time being, Massachusettsians can consider last November’s defeat of Proposition 19, a California ballot initiative to legalize and regulate the personal use of marijuana, as none of their business. But as this debate spreads outward from California it will, sooner or later, reach Massachusetts.

Having started the war on marijuana, the federal government is the enforcer of the status quo – even as opinion polls show the public’s desire for change. So, it is up to the states, one-by-one, to replace failed drug war policies with something that makes sense. To see how the future marijuana legalization debate might spread, let’s consider the work of professor Everett M. Rogers.

Based on hundreds of case studies, Rogers says the launch of a new idea requires an adventuresome idea champion willing to deal with a lot of uncertainty. A handful of “early adopters” will follow suit. Then, after waiting and carefully watching what happens, the majority of the potential “late adopters” are likely to give the new idea a try. A few “laggards,” might never adopt it.

Proposition 19 nearly passed in 2010 with 46 percent of the vote. Let’s assume in 2012 a similar initiative wins 51 percent and California becomes the first state to legalize marijuana.

Shortly thereafter, if Rogers is right, states already familiar with marijuana policy issues – including Massachusetts – will take a fresh look at marijuana legalization.

READ MORE: Fraser: Will pot legalization spread to Bay State?
MetroWest Daily News – ‎Feb 22, 2011‎