On Monday evening, Californians learned that U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein opposes the legalization of marijuana in California, and will be participating in a campaign to oppose Proposition 19, The Tax Cannabis Act.
Supporters of the initiative, which will be on the ballot this November, say that it will increase state and local revenues, ease pressure on a crowded prison and public safety system, and even reduce the unsavory and criminal elements of cannabis cultivation, distribution, and use.
One of the most vocal opponents of the Tax Cannabis Act is Public Safety First, which announced yesterday that Senator Feinstein officially opposes the measure.
Opponents argue that legalizing marijuana will make California a haven for drug use and tourism, contradict Federal law, and send the wrong message that it's okay to use marijuana recreationally.
But the state already allows residents to imbibe mind-altering, alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and liquor.
No one seems to think that this implies the Golden State's approval for drinking, so much as its willingness to tolerate responsible and non-violent drinking, least of all Dianne Feinstein, who has received nearly $125,000 in campaign contributions from the beer, wine, and liquor industry over the last five years.
The legalization of marijuana could create some fierce competition with the alcoholic beverage industry, but Senator Feinstein didn't list that among her reasons for opposing the Tax Cannabis Act in her public statement yesterday:
"Proposition 19 is simply a jumbled legal nightmare that will make our highways, our workplaces and our communities less safe. A recently released report from the Rand Corp. noted that if Proposition 19 passes, the only thing that would be certain is drug use would go up and the state of California would run afoul of federal law and risk losing federal funding."
And according to the Sacramento Bee, Senator Feinstein is not the only high-ranking Democrat from California who opposes Proposition 19. There's also Senator Barbara Boxer and Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democrats' nominee for governor.
On an issue that many perceive as more "progressive-leaning," proponents of cannabis legalization have found themselves abandoned by high-ranking Democrats in California.
However, three Democratic lawmakers in the state legislature have endorsed the Tax Cannabis Act: Reps. George Miller, Barbara Lee and Pete Stark, who recently told the Huffington Post they'll be voting Yes on Prop 19 this November.