The Washington Post reports Monday on the singular role purportedly progressive Democrats have played in blocking cannabis law reform in California. For one, the drug war started as a 1930s New Deal-era experiment in legislating morality.
But more recently, US Attorney General Eric Holder played a starring role in keeping pot illegal in California when in 2010 he flew into Los Angeles and threatened the state if it voted to tax and regulate pot for adults 21 and over.
Holder said the Obama administration “strongly opposes” [Prop 19] and “will vigorously enforce the (Controlled Substances Act) against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law.”
Support for Oakland-led Prop 19 plummeted from 54 percent in favor to 46 percent in three weeks. Prop. 19’s key swing vote was politically interested Democrats who followed their leaders away from the measure.
“Political elites exert extensive influence over Americans’ policy opinions in general and their referendum votes in particular,” the Post notes.
By contrast, Holder stayed out of the election in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, DC, all of which saw legalization pass.
“These results suggest that Democratic politicians’ strong opposition to Proposition 19 helped derail marijuana legalization in California,” the Post states.
The analysis is germane to the present.
Leading California Democrats like Senator Dianne Feinstein have positions to the right of Republicans on marijuana. Senator Barbara Boxer opposed Prop 19 as well.
Governor Jerry Brown campaigned against Prop 19 and this year made the asinine remark that controlling legal cannabis would make us less competitive with China.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, supports legalization, and so does Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee, but they are outliers.
Look at current state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who campaigned against Prop 19, laughed at reforms this year, and then idiotically suggested legalization would cause “open-air use that can lead to contact highs among bystanders who had no intention of inhaling.”
It’s California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, not Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi who carried water for legalization in DC. Pelosi also campaigned against Prop 19.
As activists gear up for 2016, getting Democrats on board better be a major priority. Otherwise, DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) will stomp the California movement, yet again.