L.A. Times: “Feinstein’s Misguided Opposition to Marijuana Legalization”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 20, 2010

    Last week California’s senior senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein cosigned the ballot argument against Prop. 19, The Regulate, Control & Tax Cannabis Initiative of 2010, which would allow adults 21 years or older to privately possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use.

    Senator Feinstein’s public opposition is hardly surprising. After all, if there is one thing about marijuana we are certain of it’s that the public is well ahead of the politicians when it comes to the issue of enacting common sense cannabis law reforms. But that doesn’t mean that Feinstein’s fear-mongering — and yes, that is exactly what it is; at one point the senator claims that the passage of Prop. 19 will ‘require’ employees to sell marijuana laced cosmetics (huh?) and candy bars in the office — doesn’t warrant a public smack down.

    My rebuttal appears today online in The Los Angeles Times. Here’s an excerpt:

    Feinstein’s misguided opposition to marijuana legalization
    via The L.A. Times

    Let’s assess her argument point by point. First, Proposition 19 explicitly states that it will not amend or undermine existing state law criminalizing motorists who operate a vehicle while impaired by pot. Driving under the influence of marijuana is already illegal in California, and violators are vigorously prosecuted. This fact will not change under the initiative.

    Second, Proposition 19 in no way undermines federal drug-free workplace rules, just as the state’s 14-year experience with legalized medical marijuana has not done so. Further, it does not limit the ability of employers to sanction or fire employees who show up to work under the influence of pot. Just as a private or public employer today may dismiss workers for being impaired by legal alcohol, employers in the future will continue to be able to fire employees who arrive to work under the influence of marijuana.

    Third, Proposition 19 seeks to enhance the safety of California’s communities by removing the commercial cultivation and distribution of marijuana from criminal entrepreneurs and moving it into the hands of licensed, regulated business people.

    Proposition 19 would also allow local governments to reallocate law enforcement resources toward more serious crimes. Presently in California, more than 60,000 people annually are arrested for minor marijuana possession offenses. Proposition 19 would eliminate many of these needless arrests. The measure’s approval would unburden the courts, save millions in taxpayer dollars and allow police to spend their time targeting more serious criminal activity.

    … It is time to bring long-overdue oversight to a market that is presently unregulated, untaxed, uncontrolled and monopolized by criminal entrepreneurs. It is time to replace nearly 100 years of failed marijuana prohibition with a policy of sensible cannabis regulation.

    You can read my entire commentary, and leave feedback with The Times, here.

    PS: In other Prop 19 news, former United States Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders has agreed to endorse the ballot measure, and her name will appear in the California voter guide. Also, over the weekend, the California Young Democrats endorsed Proposition 19. (The California State Democrat party elected to stay ‘neutral’ on the issue.) Finally, last week the UFCW’s Western States Council, representing more than 200,000 union members in the Western United States, also gave their endorsement to Prop. 19.

    PPS: For those interested, I also have separate commentaries in recent editions of the New Jersey Star Ledger (“Christie administration is wrong on medical marijuana,” July 19), and in the Redding (CA) Record Searchlight (“Science is clear; why aren’t we paying attention?“, July 18). Please check them out and leave feedback so that the editors will continue to grant reformers these op/ed opportunities in the future.

    34 responses to “L.A. Times: “Feinstein’s Misguided Opposition to Marijuana Legalization””

    1. JJ says:


    2. Greg says:

      I lived in CA 30+ years ago and Dianne Feinstein was the Mayor of San Francisco, if I remember correctly. I wasn’t political, but seems to me she was not so bad. I was under the impression she was fresh and progressive, someone who could be a positive influence and presented a friendly image for the state. Was I wrong? I live in another state now and have been really dissappointed in her politics whenever she is in the news.
      “Chickenshittery.” How appropriate.
      What gives, Dianne?
      Where did you change?
      Or was I wrong about you and you were always unreliable and fickle?
      Feel free to post!

    3. jason says:

      it took a major propaganda campaign to start marijuana prohibition. I think the quickest way to end it is with another major propaganda campaign. Exaggerate the problem. Appeal to the conservative districts’ claim to resent government babysitting and reckless spending – be sure to use those words exactly as the subtle implication of being in a state of self-contradiction is generally lost on conservatives. Appeal to the liberal districts’ claim to resent the excessive policing of individuals and reckless spending, except you can be subtle there, since there isn’t really a contradiction.

    4. Gary White says:

      In life, some people make good leaders and some make good followers. Then there are those who make speedbumps & roadblocks. She may have to go.

    5. gabriel says:

      i agree with JJ. haha. Vote Libertarian, son.

    6. BusGreg says:

      Be careful what you wish for, JJ.
      Carli “Send10000JobstoChina” Fiorina is every bit as bad when it comes to this issue. She is also no good for California with her pro corporate big business views.
      Vote YES on 19!

    7. E says:

      Those going to the LA times to post their “against” statements are not giving any facts to support their opinion. On the legalization side, we have years and mountains of evidence to support the case for going through with Prop 19. . .not based on one’s unscientific opinion. Here’s an opinion; IF YOU DON’T LIKE CANNABIS, DON’T USE IT! See, it is literally that simple. We do not have to spend billions to keep people from using it. We didn’t need to spend billions here in Michigan to get people to not smoke cigarettes. With that, they raised taxes forcing many to not be able to afford them. I will credit cannabis with helping me to over-come my 17 year addiction to cigarettes. We all know cigarettes and alcohol are much worse. However, if someone sitting in the high throne of office thinks they’re going to dictate a “better” judgement upon me, then they are wrong. They want to cry “what about the children”!? Answer: your kids already have access to cannabis right now! News-Flash! Your kids can get it now! Ask yourself how many beer or Vodka dealers do you think there are in high schools around the country at this moment? I would doubt few, if any. That is because alcohol is regulated. FACT: Drug dealers do not card. Now if you’re concerned for the kids, then legalize cannabis and apply the same age restrictions as with alcohol. The failed American drug war is a war on its own citizens and must end today, and not a minute more. I can hear that Led Zeppelin song “Your Time Is Gonna Come”. Our time to rise is here. I know which side I’ll be standing with.

    8. The Oracle says:

      Di-Fei is a fuckin’ bitch. If she doesn’t change her position vote her the hell out of office. She’s a Democrat In Name Only. DINO Diane, change your tune or get the fuck out! Go independent like Lieberman. Di-Fei is Lieberman Light. Fuckin’ Chicken Shit, you must be rich enough by now and able to retire already.

    9. TLC says:

      How can a politician be so blind? I keep wondering if they really do believe this stuff or if most realize the control one segment of society has over the other and they like it that way. It’s hard to believe they are just stupid.

      I would bet if their kids…or just middle to upper middle class white kids even…got arrested at the rate associated with blacks and latinos, they would be ready to legalize in a heartbeat.

      [Russ responds: If there were consequences to their kids being arrested, perhaps. If they get the Al Gore III or Noelle Bush treatment, maybe not.]

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