California Democrats Now Officially Support Legal Marijuana

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 10 2014 10:07 AM

California Democrats Now Officially Support Legal Marijuana

Seema Mehta reports from the California Democrats' annual convention:

On the marijuana issue, state Democrats “support the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana, in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol,” the platform reads. ... There was no debate on the proposals, only cheers and then a voice vote at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Keep in mind that the California Democratic Party rules the state with only token challenges. It runs every statewide office. It has overwhelming control of the legislature, a supermajority unless one of its members manages to end his career with a scandal. (Hey, it happens.) That doesn't even matter like it used to, because in 2012, voters undid the supermajority requirement for tax increases that had been in place since the late 1970s. Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate since FDR to carry the state with more than 60 percent of the vote—twice. (No, not even Reagan pulled that off.)

So it's safe for the Democrats to back legalization. Hey, in 2010, 47 percent of Californians voted to legalize marijuana. That was a relatively weak campaign in a horrible year for Democrats. Pro-legalization groups learned to save their energy for better years; they plan to back legalization on the California ballot again in 2016, when a larger electorate comes out to (we assume) give 60 percent or so of the vote to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. By that point, marijuana legalization may be even more mainstreamed as a revenue source—not as offensive to conservatives, quite attractive to tourists.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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