California Rallying Cry: Vote Green, Not Brown
by Steve Fox for Alternet.org
In an apparent attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown yesterday expressed his opposition to the Tax Cannabis 2010 campaign to make marijuana legal in the state.
Mr. Brown, who is was in Monterrey for a conference, said legalizing the drug would open the flood gates for the ruthless and deadly Mexican drug cartels.
“Every year we get more and more marijuana and every year we find more guys with AK-47’s coming out of Mexico going into forests and growing more and more dangerous and losing control,” Mr. Brown said.
For the purpose of this short post, I will not address in full here the idiocy of decrying the involvement of drug cartels in the marijuana trade while opposing a regulated system of distribution. Suffice it to say that burying your head in your ass the sand and hoping the drug war will eliminate drug cartels from the planet hasn’t been the most effective tactic over the past few decades.
But this post is about politics, not policy. The problem for Brown is that he is potentially turning off hundreds of thousands of voters who will be showing up in November simply to vote to make marijuana legal. Many of these “green” voters don’t give a real hoot who the next governor of the state is, as long as they can purchase their recreational drug of choice safely, conveniently and legally.
That said, single-issue marijuana voters tend to lean toward the Democratic side of the spectrum, so their votes would likely benefit Brown overall. The only thing that could reverse that likelihood is Brown dissing Proposition 19, as the initiative is now known. (Brown supporters should hope that the campaign is carefully studying polling data to determine his standing among individuals who will be turning out to vote because of the Tax Cannabis initiative.)
Here is my political advice to Mr. Brown. From now on, if he is asked about Proposition 19, he should say, “I have some concerns about the initiative, which I hope could be addressed by the state legislature if it passes, but if I am elected to be the next governor of the state I certainly plan to respect the will of the people.”
If he chooses to ignore this advice, he may be hearing or seeing – or simply feeling the effects of — the following slogan in the fall: “Vote green, not Brown.”
Steve is the director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project, co-founder of Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER), and co-author of “Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?” (Chelsea Green, August 2009).