An Open Letter To Politicians Who Have Yet To Endorse Legalizing Marijuana
By Sam Chapman, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Politicians have continued to skirt conversations revolving around marijuana since what would seem to be the beginning of time, until now. A few weeks ago marked a major turning point in politics regarding the public stances on marijuana taken by politicians. Oregon’s Attorney General race in May proved itself to be a major tipping point in showing that the benefits of endorsing sensible marijuana (medical marijuana in this instance) policies will help the candidate much more than it could ever hurt the candidate. For those who don’t already know, the race was between Dwight Holton who has become notorious for calling the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) a train wreck, and Ellen Rosenblum who stated early that she would uphold the laws passed by the citizens of Oregon. Earlier on in the race it was not very clear whether or not Ellen’s stance in favor of medical marijuana would be an issue important enough to deliver a win, but it was.
Ellen received 64% of the vote, smashing Dwight Holton back into his place as an anti-medical marijuana advocate. In fact, one third of Ellen’s campaign contributions came from drug policy organizations that saw this as an opportunity to set the stage for reforming marijuana policy not only here in Oregon, but across the nation.
The media’s reaction to Rosenblum winning by a landslide was probably similar to Holton’s camp in that they both looked at the numbers while scratching their heads and asking themselves in disbelief, “did she really just win an election because of our positive stance on upholding the existing marijuana laws in Oregon?” After the election we heard a common theme in the media trying to downplay the the marijuana movements influence on the election here in Oregon by saying things like, “marijuana played a factor, but there is no way it was the deciding factor, because that just isn’t possible”. Not only did marijuana play a factor in the Oregon Attorney General race, but it was THE factor that resulted in a landslide win for Rosemblum.
In more recent news, Beto O’Rourke defeated the eight term incumbent U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the race for Texas’s 16th Congressional District seat. O’Rourke beat Reyes by 23,248 votes to 20,427, or 50.5 percent to 44.4 percent, which is not a landslide like Rosemblum’s campaign was, but it is a major victory considering the political atmosphere that comes with running for anything in the state of Texas. O’Rourke has been an active proponent of ending the war on drugs and in particular the war on marijuana. O’Rourke is an El Paso native, meaning he knows firsthand how detrimental the war on drugs has been, given that the death toll from cartel violence has risen well over 50,000 in the past decade.