Drug Law

Los Angeles Times: “California’s Next Attorney General Can’t Punt on Marijuana”

| by NORML

Republican candidate Steven Cooley and Democratic candidate Kamala Harris are campaigning to become California’s next attorney general. In that position, he or she will be sworn to uphold the laws of the state of California. Yet neither one of them will commit to upholding and defending California’s Prop. 19, and that — as I write in today’s Los Angeles Times online — is unacceptable.

California’s next attorney general can’t punt on marijuana
via The Los Angeles Times

[Excerpt: Read the full text and comment on it here.]

Regardless of which candidate wins the race for California attorney general, voters expect that San Francisco Dist. Atty. Kamala Harris or Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley will respect the outcome of the election gracefully.

But they appear reluctant to extend that respect to Proposition 19, which would legalize the private, adult use of limited amounts of marijuana statewide and allow local governments to regulate commercial production and retail distribution. At their debate last week at UC Davis, neither Harris nor Cooley would state whether they would, as attorney general, enforce and defend Proposition 19.

… Given that the attorney general is sworn to uphold all of the laws of the state, not just the ones he or she supports, the candidates’ responses were disconcerting. In both cases it appears that their personal biases against marijuana legalization could compromise their ability to objectively carry out their duties as attorney general.

Further, both candidates’ statements exhibit extreme arrogance. On the one hand, both Harris and Cooley believe that voters should be empowered to choose the state’s top law enforcement officer; but when it comes to amending the state’s marijuana laws, Harris isn’t sure that voters have the final word, and Cooley disregards them outright. Both candidates ought to know better; after all, voters pay for enforcing these criminal policies with their tax dollars.

If a government’s legitimate use of state power is based on the consent of the governed, then at what point does marijuana prohibition — in particular the federal enforcement of prohibition — become illegitimate public policy? Ready or not, California’s next attorney general needs to be able to answer that question objectively and definitively.