Disappointing decision by Eric Holder and the Obama administration. What purpose does locking up non-violent drug users accomplish anyway? Other than let politicians check off the box that says, “tough on crime” on their reelection mailers, that is.
LOS ANGELES — The Department of Justice says it intends to prosecute marijuana laws in California aggressively even if state voters approve an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot to legalize the drug. Related
The announcement by Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general, was the latest reminder of how much of the establishment has lined up against the popular initiative: dozens of editorial boards, candidates for office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other public officials.
Still, despite this opposition — or perhaps, to some extent, because of it — the measure, Proposition 19, appears to have at least a decent chance of winning, so far drawing considerable support in polls from a coalition of Democrats, independents, younger voters and men as Election Day nears. Should that happen, it could cement a cultural shift in California, where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 and where the drug has been celebrated in popular culture at least since the 1960s.
But it could also plunge the nation’s most populous state into a murky and unsettling conflict with the federal government that opponents of the proposition said should make California voters wary of supporting it.
(click to continue reading U.S. Will Enforce Marijuana Laws, State Vote Aside – NYTimes.com.)
So which officials in California are for the bill?
The state Republican Party has officially come out against Proposition 19 and plans to urge people to vote no, said Ron Nehring, the party chairman. He called repeal a “big mistake” and mocked the notion that placing the proposition on the ballot would help Democrats.
“We call that their Hail Mary Jane strategy,” he said.
John Burton, the chairman of the California Democratic Party, said his party had decided to stay neutral on this issue. Asked if he supported it, Mr. Burton responded: “I already voted for it. Why not? Brings some money into the state. Helps the deficit. Better than selling off state buildings to some developer.”
Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California, noted that polls showed the measure breaking 50 percent, but said that given the history of initiatives in the state, that meant its passage was far from assured.
Opposition has come from a number of fronts, ranging from Mr. Baca and other law enforcement officials to the Chamber of Commerce, which has warned that it would create workplace health issues.
Still, the breadth of supporters of the proposition — including law enforcement officials and major unions, like the Service Employees International Union — signal how mainstream this movement is becoming.
“I think we consume far more dangerous drugs that are legal: cigarette smoking, nicotine and alcohol,” said Joycelyn Elders, the former surgeon general and a supporter of the measure. “I feel they cause much more devastating effects physically. We need to lift the prohibition on marijuana.”