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. fishcreekbob says:

      When they say “it might” Say show me a body. Knowing the truth about the plant I believe hemp laws are crimes against humanity. Possible genocide and treason.Free the weed and help our world. Once we get past the 30 million acre mark we’ll be able to get it to those countries with the kids with skin wrapped around bone an economy. You know Spread the wealth.

    2. mtlasagna says:

      the prop 19 cage battle is starting to heat up.

      that fact that alcohol prohibition ended in 1933 during the depression suggests that people are more open to sensible change during hard times like now.

      we can git r done.

    3. revsleezy says:

      Holy Smokes! Ms. Feinstein certainly knows what’s best for the people she represents. She is so smart. She has obviously spent a large amount of time doing her research. More of the same blah, blah, blah….
      Come on Diane, have you inhaled? Once? You know the truth.

      ULC of the Holy Smokes

    4. Mert Erel says:

      You know, everyone says that the “GOP” is against Prop 19. I’m a proud GOP member that supports Prop 19. Fiscal Responsibility and regulation is two of the pillars of conservatism. I think that NORML and MPP should work with the Young Republicans and make a “Compassionate Conservatives” PAC group to “soften” GOP’s image to the general public. Why should the Democratic party be the ones seen as compassionate when in reality, there are a lot of compassionate GOP members… more noted, the younger generation of GOP need to awaken and get with the times.

      [Russ responds: NORML is a non-partisan org and must be so for 501(c)(3) status. Fortunately, that is pretty easy, because both Democrats and Republicans have been supporters of the War on Marijuana Consumers. California’s Democratic Senators Feinstein and Boxer have vocally opposed Prop 19, Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman, guberbatorial candidates, oppose Prop 19. Democrats as a whole may be marginally better on drug war issues, but there is a growing contingent of Republicans yearning to return the party to small government, personal responsibility, and states’ rights roots who vocally support marijuana law reform (like former NM Gov and current 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Gary Johnson.)

      Just remember, Democratic Vice President Joe Biden (as a senator) created the Drug Czar! Democratic Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spearheaded the Clinton Administration’s attempts to punish doctors who recommended medical marijuana following passage of Prop 215. Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill pushed through the mandatory minimum sentencing that has us imprisoning more citizens overall and per-capita than any other nation. And even Democratic President Barack Obama, he who “inhaled, frequently, that was the point”, he who in 2004 said, “The War on Drugs is an utter failure and it is time to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws,” has said that marijuana legalization is “off the table” and a “non-starter”.]

    5. Mert Erel says:

      Mert Erel for Santa Barbara City Council in 2011!


    6. Bay Boss says:

      i 2nd that. do politicians even take time to read wat prop 19 says .. i keep hearin stupider and stupider reasons why they aginst it.. where the hell does marijuana laced cosmetic come from?? and even with the pass of p.19, why the hell would any one want consume sum thing that a cosmetic, if their is legal cannabis..?? why would any one even attemt this, even more why sum one in office would made such ignorant remarks..

      What they been smoking, deffently not our “natural, non addictin, non toxic” herb that cure the sick..

      lets bring peace to the world.. Legalize..

    7. jason says:

      It sounds like you’re all taking it personally. Don’t. This senator is against it for no reason other than the reason politicians ever take any side: money. Whatever she says or does in defense of her position is just public banter – it gives an easy-to-remember feel-good catch phrase to those who are already against legalization, and diverts the attention of those who are for legalization from her motives, and instead turns that attention into frustration at having an illogical and one-sided conversation. This is also known as propaganda.

      All you need is confidence and you can convince some statistically sufficient quantity of the peasants to guard you from the rest of the peasants – it doesn’t really matter what you have confidence in. Confidence is easy, by the way, because what politicians have confidence in is the gullibility of people: they are apathetic to the causes they vote for or against and insecure about their money. This is mainly limited to centrists and conservatives – of course, this is probably due to the fact that there aren’t really any liberal politicians. I’d suspect they would behave the same way.

      To seek power is to already be corrupt. To attain it only allows one to be corrupt on a greater scale. The well-known phrase ‘power corrupts’ is entirely backwards, as it comes from the perspective of the powerless who, if corrupt, did not care to admit it.

      It would be great to know who is paying these politicians to take this stance. Who has this much money? This is the sort of thing that should be investigated and broadcast.

    8. jim says:

      “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”


    9. Anonymous says:

      I read somewhere today that the California Democratic party voted a Neutral position on Prop 19, which I guess is better than being outright against it. Anyone hear what the Republican position will be, I can only guess. That said if I were in California I would have to abstain from voting on the Senate race, as this is a make or break issue with me. You could have, should have, stayed neutral Diane. Now you’ve told millions Not to vote for you. Sad.

    10. jim says:

      “Ignorance: the root of all evil.”

      Therefore either Dianne Feinstein is ignorant or she is directly and personally benefiting by her choice. So she is either ignorant, or she is owned by private interests because no person educated on this issue, in their right mind, would vote that way.

      This is vote that will affect all of HUMANITY.

      Medical marijuana in California was the precedent setter the trailblazer that opened the way for other states to allow for medical Cannabis. In that sense, bless you, California for doing that first.

      I believe Californian voters will do the right thing again and also set the trend again for the nation. They are smart and they know their vote does not just affect their neighborhood but the whole world. Draconian Cannabis prohibition laws have spread through the world based on US DEA influence and power. Other countries, not just other states, could follow California’s trend too.

      Either way, her choice of vote is clear indicator that her time as voice for the people she represents should end. She is either intellectually dishonest or still very very naive

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