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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Meet the California Lawmakers Who Are Enabling the Marijuana War

Posted By on Thu, May 10, 2012 at 3:10 PM

click to enlarge Rep. Dennis Cardoza, one of the Dems in favor of the marijuana war
  • Rep. Dennis Cardoza, one of the Dems in favor of the marijuana war

Losing efforts sometimes score wins. Medical marijuana scored such a moral victory late Wednesday, when 163 members of Congress voted in favor of not allowing federal dollars to be spent on busting pot growers, distributors, and dispensaries in states with medical cannabis laws.

The brainchild of this effort is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), who has introduced similar measures in the past. The amendment to the Justice Department's spending bill received universal support from Bay Area Democrats, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland); and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) voting in support it. The amendment was co-sponsored by Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove), whose district runs from the Sacramento suburbs to the Oregon and Nevada borders.

Still, the measure failed, because 262 members of the Republican-controlled Congress voiced their approval of the war on medical marijuana. Among them were 19 Californians. Most were Republicans -- but perhaps surprisingly, there were some prominent California Democrats, too.

Maxine Waters and Dennis Cardoza, we're talking about you.

Rohrabacher's amendment is seen as one way to force President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to keep their promises not to use Justice Department resources to prosecute or arrest state-legal medical marijuana providers or suppliers. If they won't hold true, or if the U.S. Attorneys who announced the statewide crackdown on medical cannabis in October are going rogue, Drug War opponents can go straight for their wallets.

click to enlarge Redefining Democrats
  • Redefining Democrats
All of Orange County's Congressional delegation are Republicans -- and all took stances against federal funding for medical marijuana enforcement. Joining amendment sponsors Rohrabacher and Tom McClintock were Republicans Ed Royce and John Campbell. Not so surprising, when you consider small-government Republicans in Southern California such as retired Judge Jim Gray have long backed drug reform.

What was surprising was the vote of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles). Long a liberal beacon, the Democrat represents the African-American portions of Los Angeles including Watts, Inglewood, and South Central. The NAACP supported semi-legalization measure Prop. 19 in 2010, recall.

Other Democrats also voting to allow Justice Department officials to keep whittling away at medical marijuana were Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced), and Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto).

Here's the full list, in order of districts, of the other California members of Congress who voted against Rohrabacher's amendment: Herger, Lungren, Denham, Costa, Nunes, McCarthy, McKeon, Galleghy, Dreier, Lewis, Miller (of SoCal), Calvert, Bono Mack, Issa, Bilbray, and Hunter.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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