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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Senate Could End War on Marijuana; Can Feinstein Be Swayed?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 7:00 AM

There goes your chance at drug reform. - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • There goes your chance at drug reform.

Drugs are powerful stuff, indeed: under their influence, even firebrand Ayn Rand libertarians and big-government, left-leaning Democrats can find common ground.

Thanks to marijuana, the unlikely pairing of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and newcomer Sen. Cory Booker, the ex-mayor of Newark, are working together to end the federal government's stamping-out of marijuana in states where the drug is legal.

You may recall that last month, the House of Representatives voted to axe from the Justice Department's budget money used to bust weed users in places like California and Colorado. In order for that historic vote to be anything more than symbolic, a similar vote will be required in the U.S. Senate.

That would require Paul -- whose father, libertarian legend Ron Paul, waged a long and fruitless struggle in Congress to liberalize drugs laws -- and Booker to somehow move immovable forces like San Francisco's own Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Can it be done?

The most recent word is that Senate majority leader Harry Reid will call the "CJS Amendment" for a vote sometime after the Fourth of July holiday. However, the item won't be called for a symbolic, doomed vote -- it'll only be called if a majority of senators can be swayed to get on board. Changing America's drug wars has always had bipartisan support, usually from some combination of Ron Paul and/or Southern California's U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who introduced last month's measure in the House, and a Democrat from either California, Colorado or the Northeast. However, it never had across-the-board support until this year, when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi led about 170 of her Democratic colleagues in backing Rohrabacher (who, it should be noted, would probably fail to agree with most Democrats on the weather, let alone anything else other than weed). That's one prominent San Francisco-based Democrat backing the will of a majority of Americans and nearly all of her constituents. So what about the other? Moving Dianne Feinstein on this issue would be an incredible feat. On the drug war, the former San Francisco mayor is firmly entrenched: she's all for it. As recently as March, Feinstein went on the record opposing marijuana legalization. And last summer, when the key Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the conflicts between state and federal marijuana laws, Feinstein was nowhere to be found: the notoriously-assiduous lawmaker skipped the hearing. So: if the U.S. Senate does indeed vote to evolve its position on the drug war, it seems like it will be without help from San Francisco.
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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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