Robert Cruickshank, public policy director for the Courage Campaign, which backs progressive causes, called for the vote in an attempt to overturn a party committee's recommendation to adopt a neutral position. He started by reminding the assembled Democrats that the party's chairman, former San Francisco state Sen. John Burton, has said pot was the issue that would motivate young voters to go to the polls in this off-year election.
Political strategists realize that candidates can benefit from supporting pro-legalization efforts. With voter support, candidates feel more comfortable and confident endorsing Prop. 19, rather than blindly following the zero tolerance War on Drugs mentality. This shift in status quo is a response to the fact that progressive voters are more likely to vote for candidates that also believe in sensible policies.
“A major part of our campaign strategy will be engaging young and first-time voters who are excited to come to the polls to support our initiative, and we think the Democratic Party will really benefit from the extra turnout that our campaign will provide,” said Yes on Proposition 19 Field Director James Rigdon.
Adding their names to the list of Prop. 19 endorsements are the California Young Democrats and the Republican Liberty Caucus of California. The Young Dems recognize the law-enforcement cost savings and potential local tax revenue legalization and taxation could bring in. The RLCCA endorsed the measure as well, but in a legalization-without-taxation stance.
“Clearly the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle free men and women living on free soil to grow and smoke marijuana,” said RLCCA Secretary Parke Bostrom. “Prop. 19 respects this right, while at the same time highlighting that under our Constitution, the federal government does not have authority to control the sale and possession of marijuana.”
John Dennis, the Republican nominee to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the 8th Congressional District, said Prop. 19 would help “restore freedom to adults over what they choose to consume. In addition, it will help reduce violence between rival drug gangs and law enforcement along the U.S./Mexico border. While not perfect, Prop. 19 is a big step in the right direction.”
As the public marijuana debate continues to sweep across the nation, politicians in every state will have to address the possibility of legalization. Better yet, the federal government will soon have to address the hypocrisy and the ultimate failures of the War on Drugs.