Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz discredits her party with her malevolent views and actions on cannabis. The Florida congresswoman’s backwardness and obstruction on one of the 2016 election’s premier issues, cannabis prohibition, may cost the Democrats important votes. Many of us will not vote for the Democratic presidential candidate (unless it is Bernie Sanders) if Schultz has poisoned the platform against expanding cannabis liberties.
It is a time of rapid changes in the American cannabis landscape – states with medical exceptions to cannabis laws, and now outright legalization, increase steadily. Over three in four Americans favor medical marijuana and a majority would now like to see legalization for personal use. Legalized states are benefiting from substantial cannabis tax revenue, reduced crime, and exploding entrepreneurial energies growing newly-freed industries.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, however, stands and votes for cannabis prohibition, and came out against medical marijuana. She opposed a November 2014 ballot initiative to provide for medical exemption for marijuana in her home state of Florida. By doing so, she aided the no vote supported by Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson, puppeteer to prohibitionist Republican candidate Marco Rubio. The initiative nonetheless got over half the vote but fell short of the 60% required to pass. Backstabbing all Floridians hoping for medical exemption, her website read:
“My view is that approval of the use of marijuana as a medical treatment should be handled responsibly and in a regulated manner that ensures its approval does not do more harm than good.”
The ballot measure she opposed would have provided this regulation. What harm it might do she does not explain; actually there is none. Expanded medical marijuana is harm reduction in dozens of ways.
Often, she votes in agreement with her right wing Republican colleagues in the US House of Representatives. She even voted against a bipartisan measure (which passed) demanding that the Justice Department stand down on federal prosecution for marijuana activities that are state legal. That a supposedly progressive legislator would harbor such harsh drug war viewpoints is surprising and disappointing, but of course this ignorance is shared by other drug war Democrats such as Joe Biden and Dianne Feinstein.
For a huge number of voters, their freedom of choice to make use of cannabis medically, or simply personally, is the single most important voting issue. The main metric for these Americans on how much freedom they actually enjoy in their lives relate to the only laws they break, those prohibiting their possession and use of cannabis. Otherwise law abiding, many Americans have risked felony arrest over decades for willfully violating unjust marijuana laws. How these laws are treated in the platforms and the candidate’s words are key to winning this huge voting block.
Medical marijuana users will not tolerate anti-cannabis platforms and candidates. This huge group will continue to expand as evidence of medical cannabis effectiveness grows. Nearly everyone has suffered from some condition probably best treated with medical cannabis. Who has not, for example, suffered from pain? As an adjunct pain medication medical cannabis can allow for lighter treatments with dangerous, addictive, disruptive pharmaceutical pain medications. For many pain conditions, including some types of neuropathic pain, cannabis alone is the most effect treatment. And, of course, cannabis is by far the safest of all pain medications (including aspirin); unlike all the other pain meds (and most medicines in fact) cannabis cannot kill you. Ever greater numbers of Americans using cannabis for pain, or for glaucoma, or for any of the dozens of conditions it helps prevent, relieve, and cure will demand candidates and political parties expand, not take away, personal rights to their medicine of choice.
Younger voters will, for the most part, reject anti-cannabis politicians or stances. This group polls highest for cannabis legalization and fully realizes that cannabis is far safer than alcohol. Certainly they will reject any overtly prohibitionist candidate, such as Republican Chris Christie, who pledged to cure diseased cannabis users with law enforcement.
Debbie Wasserman Shultz, hand picked by Barack Obama, was at the helm of the DNC during the the 2014 elections. This contest was of course, utter disaster for Democrats, costing them the Senate majority two years after they lost the House. Cannabis decriminalization and rescheduling should be centerpieces of the 2016 Democratic Party platform. How disastrous for the party and the country were Debbie to again do malice by slanting the party platform to her stale, drug war prohibitionist views on marijuana!
What do you think? Should the Democratic National Committee find a new chairperson? How can activists get pro-cannabis, anti-prohibition planks into the party’s (and GOP’s) platform?