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

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 thoughts

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.]

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. 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”.]

  12. 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..

  13. 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.

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


  15. 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.

  16. “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

  17. Senator Feinstein credibility is going down fast and whoever she have trusted is playing her like a drum.

    When Proposition 19 becomes law it will become a very important historical event in the United States.

  18. four huge grow facilities for oakland, with no size limit!

    put that in your pipe and smoke it lady.

    the dems are neutral now but watch’em start wearing pot tees. the pubs will be sniffing behind.

  19. Jim #20 – well said, thank you! Respect!
    Russ, what you said about the Dems is irrefutable. Being a 55 year old “progressive liberal”, there seems to be no end to the disappointments brought to us by our feckless elected officials. I will say however, that ‘pound for pound’, the repubs are much worse – even dangerous to cannabis nation/world. I believe there is a difference between COWARDICE-DEMS, and IDEOLOGY-REPUBS. Repubs BELIEVE their unsubstantiated, conclusively, scientifically disproved, idiotic propaganda…
    Meg Whitman has said on her site that she plans to BUILD MORE PRISONS! (I’d love to know if she has any stock in the privatized prison industry!) She is more than willing to fill thos beds with us! Her ILK is rampant in the repub ranks. Watch who the “counter-point” clueless jackasses are that come on TV to debate fact armed experts like Paul Armentano, Ethan Nadelman(sp?) and other heroes of mine. They are usually Republican operatives spouting lies, and scare tactics!
    Again I fully agree with your observations about the named Democrats, and find their choices ignorant and despicable! But again ‘pound for pound’, it’s the “Right”(?) that are the champions of despicable, hypocritical, antiquated, destructive policy. The Dems unfortunately are mostly cowards. Alas…
    Huge ups for anti-prohibitionists on BOTH SIDES!
    Russ, you SIR are one of the most erudite, well spoken advocates we have! I am EXTREMELY proud of you, and vote to have you represent us on some of those televised debates. I salute you man, and hope to someday shake your hand and thank you for your tireless work. You keep old soldiers like me in the fight! THANK YOU MAN! I AM GRATEFUL…

  20. I think Dianne Feinstein is just following orders from Washington. The prohibition of Cannabis is stupid. I hope the people of California will do the right thing and end this crazy war on Cannabis at the ballot box. and here don’t forget… Free Marc Emery!!!
    – Friendly Canadian from Toronto, Canada.

  21. Ditch that moron Feinstein. She’s so out of touch, what an arrogant confused nutcase.

    Dems, you are a total failure. To serve up her AND Jerry Brown, really an unbelievable failure at so many levels.

    The liberals will be out in force in November, and you give us JERRY FUCKING BROWN to work with?!?

    Oh for the love of God.

  22. Who is running America? Have you ever asked that question?

    Under the doctrine of Parens Patriae, “Government As Parent”, as a result of the manipulated bankruptcy of the United States of America in 1930, ALL the assets of the American people, their person, and of our country itself are held by the Depository Trust Corporation at 55 Water Street, NY, NY, secured by UCC Commercial Liens, which are then monetized as “debt money” by the Federal Reserve. It may interest you to know that under the umbrella of the Depository Trust Corporation lies the CEDE Corporation, the Federal Reserve Corporation, the American Bar Association, the legal arm of the banking interests, and the Internal Revenue Service, the system’s collection agency.

  23. I called her office and her mind is made up and case closed. She needs to take some lessons on marijuana and stop going retroactive to the Nixon years. People already smoke and they are going to do it anyway. If anything, hopefully alcoholics will cross over, then accidents won’t be so deadly.

    She don’t know all the detalis and studies. I think we just need to throw her a bone because Ms Feinstine, dear, the Genie is out of the bottle and not going back in this time so it is time for acceptance now!!!

  24. I’m willing to bet that BIG PHARMA. has played a major part in blocking medical cannabis. It works better than most of the meds. they make and they can’t patent it. So BIG PHARMA. is lining pockets of the politicians with big money to protect their profits.Since cannabis works extremely well for so many different illnesses,BIG PHARMA. is worried about losing their profits when people stop eating there poison pills and turn to non toxic cannabis to treat their illness. I’m disabled with a serious spinal cord injury,have had a miserable Failed Back Surgery and Cannabis got me off an Oxycontin addiction. And cannabis is a miracle treating my spinal cord injury. I thought we voted for change!!

  25. I have a question…

    How does an employer determine if an employee is under the influence of Pot?

    We all know a urine test is nothing more than an indicator of history not impairment!

    [Paul Armentano responds: There are numerous types of impairment tests available. Blood testing is also an option, though an imperfect one.]

  26. She won’t be around after November, and neither will Boxer. That will give the Golden State a golden smile.

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