Politics can make strange bedfellows and it has long been extremely weird that California was represented by an anti-cannabis United States Senator, the extremely powerful Dianne Feinstein. While Oregon paved the way for decriminalization in the early 1970s, California really led the charge for the recent momentum to bring sanity to our marijuana laws by voting to legalize medical use back in 1996. Oregon and Washington followed in 1998 and we’ve been building upon electoral success after electoral success state by state ever since.
While most national Democrats representing progressive states were getting on the right side of history, Sen. Feinstein was still clinging to Reefer Madness policies as late as 2016, opposing ending cannabis prohibition in the Golden State. Feinstein first announced that she no long opposed legalization back in May, but talk is cheap. Now, Calfornia’s senior senator has signed onto the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States Act, as Marijuana Moment reported:
The bill, nicknamed the STATES Act, was introduced by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) in June. The senators have made clear they wanted to demonstrate bipartisan support for the legislation, and so part of the rollout plan has been to bring on two cosponsors at a time—one from each party—following a “Noah’s Ark” strategy, as Warren described it.
But Warren and Gardner allowed Feinstein to sign up solo this week, without a corresponding GOP senator. A Senate aide familiar with the legislation told Marijuana Moment that the rationale was that Feinstein, as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is uniquely positioned to help push the ball forward. But the overall plan hasn’t changed and the next cosponsor will be a Republican.
Signing on to the STATES Act reflects Feinstein’s continuing evolution on marijuana policy. After spending most of her political career opposing drug reform measures, including California’s 2016 adult-use legalization ballot initiative, the senator this year come out in support of letting states set their own marijuana laws.
“Federal law enforcement agents should not arrest Californians who are adhering to California law,” Feinstein told McClatchy in May. In that interview, she also signaled her support for the STATES Act, but said she’d have to look it over first to “determine whether it’s the best path forward.”
There are some that have criticized and will criticize Senator Feinstein for changing her tune way too late (those folks would be correct) and that she’s only doing so because she’s facing re-election against a progressive Democrat (probably right on that count as well), but in the end, we need to welcome those that have been on the wrong side of history into the light. Reefer Madness propaganda has plagued our nation for decades and people have been brainwashed for their entire lives.
Those of us that live in states with legal cannabis can sometimes forget about the persecution and fear that faces the cannabis community in states with draconian laws. People suffering through draconian punishments and crippling stigma desperately need officials like Senator Feinstein to embrace ending prohibition quickly and we should welcome the reformed prohibitionists into the right side of history because too many lives are still being ruined and defamed.
Learn the latest about the cannabis industry and join the growing movement that is changing the world by attending the International Cannabis Business Conference in Portland, Oregon, this September 27th-28th. While you will have the opportunity to network with investors and entrepreneurs, there is always a focus on activism at the ICBC as keeping people out of jail and helping patients remain the foundational principles of the legalization movement. Get your tickets here.