Proving the truism that even a broken clock is right once (or maybe twice) a day, U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) is lending his support to a proposed bill that, as its name suggests, would allow state residents 21 years or older to enjoy California's world-renowned marijuana just as they do our fine wines. Along with retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, who authored the bill, other law enforcement backers, as well as Fullerton City Councilmember Bruce Whitaker (speaking on behalf of Supervisor Chris Norby, who couldn't attend), Rohrabacher spoke in favor of the bill at a Sept. 1 fundraiser at the Newport Beach Vineyard & Winery. Members of OCNORML and the Human Solution, a courtroom-hopping activist group, were also on hand.
“I don't believe that you protect people by throwing them in cages,” Rohrabacher told attendees. “For us to be taking people for smoking a weed and putting them in prison or jail for that is a travesty. It's against everything our founding fathers believed in and somehow we got away from that.”
Rohrabacher has long acknowledged that he frequently smoked weed in his younger days, and that he's grateful he was never busted, given that back in the late 1960s simply possessing a joint could land you in jail for six months. To even qualify for the Nov. 2012 ballot, supporters will have to gather 10,000 signatures and raise at least $1 million to get on the average Californian's radar screen.
Unlike Prop. 19, which would have legalized recreational pot use for adults but failed at the polls last year, however, Gray's bill doesn't contain any language adding new criminal penalties for providing pot to minors, nor does it add new limits to how much weed you can grow, which explains why most Northern California residents opposed it.
In any case, the fact that a prominent and popular Republican lawmaker is lending his name to a bill that would effectively legalize weed–and do so at a well-attended fundraiser at a mainstream and respectable establishment like the Newport Beach Vineyard & Winery–suggests that maybe, just maybe, this is an idea that, like a fine wine, has finally reached its time.