Amid the debate over its pros, cons, and ramifications, California voters rejected Proposition 19, which would have legalized recreational marijuana use for people over the age of 21 in the state.

The measure only received 46 percent of the vote, denying it this time around. But proponents believe that the number of favorable votes is a good base with which to get the measure approved two years from now, the next time it can be brought before voters.

“It’s still a historic moment in this very long struggle to end decades of failed marijuana prohibition,” Stephen Gutwillig, California director for the Drug Policy Project, told the Associated Press.

“Unquestionably, because of Proposition 19, marijuana legalization initiatives will be on the ballot in a number of states in 2012, and California is in the mix.”

There are varying opinions as to why the measure was defeated. Some claim it was because many of the younger voters don’t turn out for mid-term elections; generally, voting only in presidential elections.

However, Richard Lee, an Oakland medical-marijuana dealer who backed the measure with $1.4 million of his own money, says he thinks it was about the specifics of the bill, and the fact that federal officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, said they would continue to enforce a superseding federal law which makes marijuana use illegal.

“We had to fight the federal government,” Lee told The Wall Street Journal.

While pre-election numbers showed support for the bill, only a little more than a half of the Democratic voters supported the measure and less than 30 percent of Republicans voted in favor of the measure. In addition, less than half of Black and Hispanic voters, who make up a large majority of marijuana-related arrests, supported the measure.

Some say those numbers show that California has spoken definitively on the issue.

“If they think they are going to be back in two years, they must be smoking something,” Tim Rosales, leader of the “No on 19” campaign, told the AP. “This is a state that just bucked the national trend and went pretty hard on the Democratic side, but yet in the same vote opposed Prop 19. I think that says volumes as far as where California voters are on this issue.”