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The Green Gorilla In Politics.


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US MA: OPED: The Green Gorilla In Our Politics


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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v12/n459/a08.html

Newshawk: http://www.drugsense.org/donate.htm

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Sun, 16 Sep 2012

Source: Metrowest Daily News (MA)

Copyright: 2012 MetroWest Daily News

Contact: mdnletters@cnc.com

Website: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/619

Author: Richard M. Evans





As President Obama and Gov. Romney scramble for support, both candidates shrink from reaching out to an emerging body of voters whose support could spell the difference between victory and defeat in November. Call it anything but the stoner vote.




* In 2008, Massachusetts voters faced a decriminalization ballot question and Michigan voters had the opportunity to enact medical marijuana. Both passed handily, with pot getting more votes than Barrack Obama.


* In California's 2010 contest for attorney general, voters had a choice between Kamela Harris, who supported the state's medical marijuana laws, and Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who vigorously opposed them. Harris won.


* In May of this year, Oregon democrats similarly had a choice between two qualified candidates for state attorney general, distinguishable only by their positions on medical marijuana. The supporter, Ellen Rosenblum, beat the opponent, Dwight Holton.


* In this year's Texas Democratic primary, an eight-term congressman, Silvestre Reyes, suffered a stinging defeat ( notwithstanding personal assistance from Bill Clinton ) by a young city councilor, Robert O'Rourke, who recognizes prohibition as the lifeblood of violent cartels and urges its reconsideration.


Who are these voters who pass such initiatives and elect such candidates? They can't be stoners, as marijuana consumers comprise only around 11 percent of the adult population.


Here's my guess.


These are voters who don't smoke pot, but they don't think that people who do should be arrested for it. They don't see why the industry can't be regulated, taxed and controlled like other commodities. They're tired of government propaganda that conflates use and abuse. They are aghast at the level of brutality with which the marijuana laws are sometimes enforced ( Google "swat raid marijuana" ), and are dismayed that "narcotics enforcement" has succeeded the Jim Crow laws as our nation's principal instrument of racial oppression, as described by Michelle Alexander in her monumental work, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness."


These voters don't smoke pot, but they're OK with people who do. Call them pot-tolerant, or "Tols," but don't expect to hear from them publicly. They know better than to speak honestly with pollsters or other strangers about marijuana, don't join advocacy groups and they would never send a letter to the editor. To criticize prohibition publicly might put at risk their jobs, their housing, their property or maybe even the custody of their children. However, when they step into voting booth and pull the curtain tight, they are vocal indeed. It is their one opportunity to speak honestly on this subject, without fear of exposure or reprisal.


So far in this campaign, both President Obama and Governor Romney have accomplished what nearly every politician wants when it comes to marijuana: to change the subject. Mr. Obama deflects the subject with ridicule, and Mr. Romney with irritation -- as, when asked about medical marijuana, he snapped at the interviewer for not asking about jobs, unaware, apparently, that in the small state of Montana alone, medical marijuana created 1,400 new jobs. ( Extrapolate, Governor. )


Unfortunately, they get away with it. Neither candidate has been forced to defend his support for prohibition, or to project how many more people will have to be arrested, prosecuted and punished in order to achieve "victory" in the war on pot, however he defines it. Neither has been asked whether he respects the right of states to protect patients and doctors, and the providers of medical marijuana, from arrest and punishment. No interviewer has pressed as to why states should not have the right to tax and regulate the marijuana industry within their borders.


Change is coming, as voters exercise leadership abdicated by politicians. A splendid federal-state showdown will be triggered in November if the voters of Oregon, Washington or Colorado approve full legalization initiatives on their ballots, yet marijuana remains the big green gorilla in the room that each candidate pretends not to notice, perhaps at his peril.

MAP posted-by: Matt

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