Colorado and Washington State legalized marijuana in 2012, which are at the top of everyone’s ‘top moments of 2012’, and rightfully so. 2012 will go down as the year marijuana prohibition started dying. However there was an event that pre-dated Colorado and Washington’s victories that I don’t see on anyone’s lists. I am referring to the Attorney General race in Oregon. Fortunately, we will never know exactly what would have happened if Dwight Holton became Oregon’s Attorney General, because he got crushed at the ballot box.
However, it will never stop me from speculating and reminding people how close we came to seeing medical marijuana dismantled nationwide. Many will write this off as just being my opinion, but hear me out. Dwight Holton HATES medical marijuana. Why else would he have called the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program a ‘trainwreck’? Why else would he have led raids on legal medical marijuana gardens in Southern Oregon? Why else would he have sent so many harassing letters to collective owners and their landlords? Imagine if a guy like that was in charge of Oregon’s courts, as well as the person that state agencies had to look to for guidance when it came to issues surrounding the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP)…
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that he would do everything he could to stop the program from operating. If you aren’t alarmed by things so far, consider the fact that the Oregon Attorney General race only included two Democratic candidates – no Republican candidate filed. OMMP supporters and Dwight Holton opponents didn’t have until November to make their case against Dwight Holton. The race would be decided during the primary, which was held in May, giving cannabis activists roughly two months to try to affect the election.
This was no easy task. Dwight Holton comes from a very strong political background. His dad is former Governor of Virginia, and his brother is the former head of the Democratic National Committee. He was originally appointed by Barack Obama to be the federal prosecutor for Oregon, and had money flowing into his campaign as a result of his high powered background and connections. I would bet my degree in Public Policy that it wasn’t a coincidence that Dwight Holton, who had barely moved to Oregon, was running for Attorney General in the second oldest medical marijuana state in the nation. The Obama Administration was cracking down hard on medical marijuana at the time, and it seemed too perfect to have a raging anti-medical marijuana crusader running things right in the middle of the West Coast.
Oregon’s medical marijuana program would have been hindered, if not blocked entirely, by the Oregon Department of Justice. All it would have taken was for Dwight Holton to adhere to federal guidelines instead of state guidelines and the ultimate monkey wrench would have been thrown at the OMMP. If Oregon had been taken out, what would that have meant for California and Washington, and beyond? Would legalization efforts had gotten as much support and attention if, at the same time, medical marijuana programs were fighting for their existence?
I guess we will never know, but I think it’s extremely important to reflect on the 2012 Oregon Attorney General Race. There will no doubt come a time when other candidates similar to Dwight Holton try to do the same thing. If we fight the same way we did against Dwight Holton, we will smash the candidate at the ballot box again. However, if the victory continues to be forgotten about outside of Oregon, it’s my fear that the result will be different. With legalization efforts spreading across the nation, it’s important to remember that we need to keep politicians accountable, because they can wreak havoc on the implementation and administering phases of our efforts.
ENORMOUS PROPS TO STUDENTS FOR SENSIBLE DRUG POLICY, DRUG POLICY ALLIANCE, NATIONAL CANNABIS COALITION, AND ESPECIALLY JIM GREIG FOR MAKING DWIGHT’S DEFEAT POSSIBLE.
HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION, BE SAFE, AND KEEP FIGHTING IN 2013! THE WINDS OF CHANGE ARE AT OUR BACKS, AND LIKE BARNEY FRANK SAID, “IT IS TIME TO PRESS OUR ADVANTAGE!”