Medical marijuana advocates hope Oregon election victory will shift debate

President Obama might have ramped up federal efforts to combat state medical marijuana laws, but Oregon’s new Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has put this the issue low on her list of priorities.

Rosenblum ran against interim U.S. attorney Dwight Holton, who oversaw a crackdown on medical marijuana while in office and called the state’s marijuana laws a “train wreck.” This inspired marijuana advocates such as Drug Policy Alliance to heavily lobby for Rosenblum’s election. Such groups adopted the electoral spending typical of other issue advocacy. Indeed, they took a page from police unions and alchohol industry, which have lobbied against marijuana legalization. (Police unions receive federal “Drug War” grants to finance their budgets, while the alcohol industry perhaps believes people will suddenly stop drinking beer, liquor and wine if marijuana is legalized.)

“What we’re hoping, and what we assume, is that any U.S. attorney who’s thinking of running for statewide office in a Democratic Primary anywhere in the country is going to think twice now before adopting a highly aggressive posture toward the medical marijuana law,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Alliance and its campaign branch Drug Policy Action.

It is, however, important to recognize that American voters’ views on marijuana are shifting even without the influence of money in elections.

A recent poll notes that 74% of Americans believe the federal government should respect state medical marijuana laws. The importance of pro-marijuana lobbying lies in its ability to effectively broadcast or advertise these changing values across individual states and the nation, which is important. The public, which is so bombarded with minute-by-minute distractions, titillation and the calls for constant consumption, needs to be pulled out of its collective stupor in order to call for change.

With time and effort state and federal laws should begin to respect the absurdity that is marijuana prohibition.