Dianne Feinstein, our U.S. senator who is not up for reelection this November, joins Reps. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Marin) and gubernatorial candidates Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman in coming out against Prop. 19, the marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot.
The pro-legalization side has Bay Area House Democrats George Miller, Pete Stark and Barbara Lee, as well as Sting and Montel Williams.
Surprisingly, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) leads the undecideds.
Ryan Grim, the author of This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America, has an interesting breakdown on Prop. 19 supporters, opponents and fence-sitters on today's Huffington Post. That and some recent high-profile comments on the voter initiative form the basis for the following:
Feinstein signed the ballot argument against Prop. 19 and issued a statement Monday through the opposition campaign calling the measure "a jumbled legal nightmare that will make our highways, our workplaces and our communities less safe."
Remember when a CHP officer who'd guarded then-Gov. Moonbeam said he smelled pot at one of Jer's parties? That was then, and this is Brown running for Gov 2.0 on the tough law-and-order cred he established as state Attorney General. Speaking at the California District Attorneys Association Conference in Monterey late last month, Brown said legalizing marijuana would open the flood gates for the ruthless and deadly Mexican drug cartels. "Every year we get more and more marijuana and every year we find more guys with AK-47's coming out of Mexico going into forests and growing more and more dangerous and losing control," Brown said.
You want law-and-order, Brown Noser? Whitman published a statement on her campaign website in March that calls marijuana "a gateway drug whose use would expand greatly among our children if it were to be legalized." It was part of a five-point crime statement that also supported the Three Strikes law, the death penalty and prison reform--if by prison reform you mean building more prisons--and opposition to any more gun control laws.
Woolsey is a head-scratcher: Her district includes Sonoma County, where respondents are likely toking up as they take Prop. 19 polls. Or maybe it isn't surprising; her district includes pot growers who stand to lose millions, maybe billions, if buds go legit and prices are driven down. Woolsey explains her opposition to her being a "mother and grandmother," who is "concerned" about any law that might contribute to substance abuse among the young. But the Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair also reiterated her support for medical marijuana.
"Medical marijuana in California is a complete failure and a fraud," Issa says to explain his opposition to legalization. "It's not about people with terminal diseases; it's about recreational use." This conservative supports more government regulation--of medical cannabis anyway. But he also is "not completely averse to looking at those laws" that prohibit marijuana." He equates pot to booze, which he notes is well regulated. Um . . . so why are you opposed again, Darrell?
Sting wants marijuana legalized not just in California, but all across America, arguing, "The "'War on Drugs' has failed-but it's worse than that. It is actively harming our society. Violent crime is thriving in the shadows to which the drug trade has been consigned. People who genuinely need help can't get it. Neither can people who need medical marijuana to treat terrible diseases. We are spending billions, filling up our prisons with non-violent offenders and sacrificing our liberties." He's seeking support for the Drug Policy Alliance, an activist group that campaigns for the release of people imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses. "For years, the 'Drug War' has been used as a pretext to lock people in prison for exorbitant lengths of time-people whose 'crimes' never hurt another human being, people who already lived at the margins of society, whose voices were the faintest and whose power was the least," Sting says. "Meanwhile, resources to fight genuine crime-violent crime-have been significantly diminished." He always has gone on and on about a brand new day, after all.
Williams, the former TV chat host who now suffers from multiple sclerosis, is actually pushing for legalization in New York. He says the Devil's Weed has helped ease his pain. That won't change if he has to tape any infomercials in California, though. Williams claims he'll smoke pot "until the day I die."
Rohrabacher, who has often given into his libertarian streak over the years and supported decriminalization legislation on the House floor, says he was initially planning to endorse the proposition, but thinks it doesn't go far enough to protect employers. "I would say in principle I would vote yes but you always have to read the fine print. I read into it and it was more than simply preventing people from going to jail. It was that nobody could use that as a criteria for hiring and firing. . . . If somebody wants to hire just non-smokers or non-drinkers that's his or her personal prerogative as far as I'm concerned." If a bill similar to the voter initiative came to the House floor, but didn't include the employer language, Dana said he'd still vote for it.
Rep. Mike Honda, who represents a Silicon Valley that, as Grim puts it, "owes much to consciousness-expanding drugs," is tilting toward yes. "It's like driving or drinking: We have a certain age, then you have that privilege and if you abuse it you lose it. I don't think this is any different, just like other kinds of legalized behavior," the Democrat says. But he also expressed concern over the effect of legalization and regulation on the business model of NorCal growers.
Rep. Mike Thompson represents the district loaded with the most illicit pot growers, Humboldt County, which probably explains why the Blue Dog Democrat is undecided.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-The Stone Age) is one of the most libertarian-leaning politicians in California, but he has yet to tell his staffers which way he's leaning on legal pot.
My name is Rep. Henry Waxman (D-West LA) and I don't know whether to endorse this message because I remain undecided.
This post began by noting Feinstein is not up for reelection this year. This may be key to her opposition to legalization. Our other senator,Barbara Boxer
, is barely clinging to a lead over Republican nomineeCarly Fiorina
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. Boxer has yet to say where she comes down on Prop. 19, which Democratic activists are hoping drives more liberal-minded voters to the polls.
Grim recounts the state Democratic Party convention in April, where chairman John Burton was asked how to re-energize Obama voters from 2008.