Buzz kill though it may be, California voters sent a message this week: They are not comfortable with the state triggering a confrontation with federal authorities over recreational use of marijuana.
Leading up to Tuesday's vote on the much-hyped Proposition 19, the federal government made crystal clear that while it is willing to abide medical marijuana in California and other states, it will not accept complete legalization.
There needs to be a national debate on whether to continue to criminalize marijuana, and Proposition 19 has helped spur that discussion.
But California would be wise not to quickly come back with another go-it-alone initiative to legalize pot. The state has too many other pressing problems that need attention.
Unfortunately, the leading proponent of Proposition 19 -- decisively defeated 54 percent to 46 percent -- is already talking about trying again with a ballot measure in 2012.
Richard Lee, founder of the Oaksterdam conglomerate in Oakland, should save his breath and his money. It would be much more helpful, for instance, to use that cash to subsidize medical marijuana for poor patients.
If time and energy is to be spent on pot issues, it needs to be directed to making sure medical marijuana is regulated and taxed effectively and fairly.
Californians, at the ballot box with Proposition 215, have made their peace with medical marijuana. And through their elected representatives in the Legislature, they have come to terms with the fact that marijuana use is widely accepted.
This past session, lawmakers approved, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed, a bill that further decriminalizes marijuana. Simple possession of an ounce or less was formally reduced from a misdemeanor to an infraction with a $100 fine.
Because of these reforms, patients in California can obtain pot to help relieve their pain, and those who choose to use it responsibly are not going to get a criminal record, even if they somehow get caught.
On marijuana, that's not a bad place to be.
Editorials are the opinion of the Merced Sun-Star editorial board. Members of the editorial board include Publisher Debra Kuykendall, Executive Editor Mike Tharp, Editorial Page Editor Keith Jones, Copy Desk Chief Jesse Chenault, Online Editor Brandon Bowers and visiting editor James Bennett.
(This editorial originated with our sister newspaper The Sacramento Bee.)