In races across the country, the cannabis law reform community has demonstrated that we can be a major player in electoral politics, particularly within relatively-progressive enclaves. This year is shaping up to be a historic year for marijuana law reform as the movement has organized and united like never before.
With marijuana law reform on the ballot in six states, including Oregon, Washington and Colorado pushing for an end to cannabis prohibition, dedicated activists have utilized some deep-pocketed donors and grassroots efforts to pull off the tremendous feat of just getting on a few state-wide ballots. Recent polls show that several of these measures have a good chance to win at the ballot box, providing more victories for the cannabis community across the country.
It has already been much publicized that marijuana law activists have already affected candidate races in Oregon and Texas. Washington’s legalization measure has forced two King County Sheriff candidates to endorse marijuana legalization and even the state’s Republican candidate for United States Senator has endorsed an end to the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition. In Portland, Oregon, both mayoral candidates are on record supporting ending cannabis prohibition.
Recently, medical marijuana law supporters forced the Los Angeles City Council to repeal its ban on dispensaries. The council likely underestimated the organizational skills and political clout of the cannabis community. Oregon Attorney General candidate Dwight Holton certainly did and the Springfield, Missouri, City Council certainly has as well. Incumbent Congressman Sylvestre Reyes was defeated by, Beto O’Rourke, marijuana legalization supporter, despite the incumbent’s endorsements by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
While the odds always seem stacked against us as we have to combat years of propaganda, deep-rooted stereotypes and the government itself, we are winning this war being waged upon us. It can be very hard refuting the propaganda spewed by prohibitionists, we just need to keep our eye on the prize and keep working to educate voters with some simple truths. In 1995, there were no medical marijuana states. California legalized medical cannabis in 1996 and now the Golden State is joined by 16 other states and the nation’s capital. If just one of the three states ends prohibition in 2012, you can be assured that more states will soon follow.
It is a truth that cannabis is a relatively safe substance that can be regulated without society falling apart. It is a truth that prohibition distracts our law enforcement resources from fighting serious and violent crime. It is a truth that prohibition deprives our communities jobs and tax revenues that can help our schools and social services. Just keep educating mainstream voters about these simple truths, and one day, the truth shall set us all free.
Published with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition