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California Democrats Reaffirm Commitment To Legal Marijuana

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Members of the California Democratic Party approved far-reaching marijuana platform planks and withheld their endorsement from an anti-legalization U.S. senator over the weekend.

California Democrats “support the ongoing legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol, while prioritizing the health, education, and safety of California’s communities and the country over revenue or profits,” reads one of the platform items approved at the party convention on Sunday.

A day earlier, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is running for reelection this year, failed to win the party’s endorsement for her campaign.

Feinstein, one of Congress’s most vocal proponents of continued cannabis criminalization, garnered the support of only 37 percent of delegates. State Senate President Kevin de León, who is challenging Feinstein, had 54 percent in his column.

While de León’s support is short of the 60 percent needed for official party endorsement, the 17-point victory over Feinstein is a stunning rebuke to one of the state’s most prominent politicians.

Additional platform planks on marijuana and drug policy include pledges to:

“Support holistic healing practices and alternative medicine, particularly those areas licensed by the state such as acupuncture and medical cannabis and utilized to relieve intractable pain without the side effects of conventional controlled drugs.”

“Monitor legislation enacted to remedy any uncertainty concerning dispensing of medical cannabis with regard to state law that will provide for rights of medical cannabis patients and specify means and manner of dispensing to qualified patients, even in light of the passage of cannabis for recreational use.”

“Insist that veterans and military families have access to medically necessary treatment in the appropriate facility as recommended by the treating physician including the use of medicinal cannabis in states where it is legalized and support the licensing of medical psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medications to treat veterans’ mental health needs.”

“Reduce prison overcrowding by decreasing penalties and decriminalizing certain drug and other non-violent offenses, implementing state law provisions for compassionate release and release for older, long-term prisoners, and support community service as an alternative sentence for low-risk individuals.”

Feinstein campaigned against the state’s successful medical cannabis and marijuana legalization ballot measures. In Congress, she has voted to oppose measures to protect her constituents who are following those laws from federal arrest and prosecution.

Last week, she signed letters asking Google and other tech firms to take steps such as “disabling the ability to search for illicit drugs through your platform.”

Meanwhile, while de León didn’t campaign for California’s 2016 legalization ballot measure, he is now pushing the federal government to let the state implement its own marijuana laws without interference.

“California and a growing number of states have developed thoughtful regulations to test, permit, and supervise cannabis in a manner that protects public health while fostering economic growth,” he said recently. “Rather than wasting taxpayer resources on an ineffective and discriminatory policy fixated on cannabis, Congress and the President should focus federal resources on the national opioid crisis and respect states’ rights and the will of voters.”

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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