Some California Democratic Party marijuana legalization-friendly
resolutions appear to be largely symbolic but some say it could be the start of
The California Democratic Party executive board on July 21 passed some marijuana-friendly resolutions, including requesting President Barack Obama to allow the newly enacted marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington state to take effect with no federal interference; asking Obama to end federal raids in states with medical marijuana laws; and a comprehensive study be immediately undertaken to produce recommendations for reform of the nation's marijuana prohibition laws.
Another resolution that passed asks state legislators to establish parameters for cities and counties on licensing, nuisance abatement and zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries.
"It's mostly symbolic," said Jack Pitney, a Claremont McKenna College political scientist. "When people go to polls on a ballot measure, they're not paying attention to what a political party organization will say about it. I seriously doubt the Democratic Party will spend any money on this measure."
Pitney said the idea of legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana is gaining traction nationwide.
"You could see more of this as time goes on," Pitney said.
But applying some of the medical marijuana distribution language locally creates a different set of issues, he said.
"On one level, a lot of people say that medical marijuana is a good idea but in practice the dispensaries have created problems with local governments," Pitney said. "Because the clientele does not consist of the Brady Bunch. I think (local governments) will shrug their shoulders as long as the state doesn't try to force dispensaries on them and cities have flexibility on determining whether they can open in their boarders. I think that's what would be crucial. They have the ability to keep things out if they want or bring them in if they want."
Covina Police Chief Kim Raney, who is the president of the California Police Chiefs Association, called the marijuana-friendly language "an extreme view of the issues" and like Pitney felt it was largely symbolic.
"I don't think this even justifies a response from the association at this point," Raney said.
But he discussed the resolutions anyway.
"What we find out historically is when resolutions come out, they take a very extreme position to create attention and conversation but they're nowhere near the reflection of the average voter in California about the issue," Raney said.
People, he said, are "starting to see the farce the medical marijuana legislation is." But he also said there is one sentence in the resolutions that he agrees with.
"There does need to be a comprehensive national study and conversation about marijuana," Raney said.
California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said Thursday that the resolutions are "a reflection of the views of the executive board" and speak for themselves.
Lanny Swerdlow, founder of the Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center in Riverside, which closed after the state Supreme Court upheld local governments' right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, works with the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside and pushed for the resolutions.
"I was surprised how smoothly it went through," Swerdlow said, adding his club is a "marijuana interest group" in the Democratic Party.
"If I had not formed it and we had not had the resolution introduced, it would not have had success," he said. "We're trying to get others formed ... and go county by county here."
(c)2013 the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)
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