UPDATED: Marijuana Reformers Have Mixed Feelings About Drug Warrior Dianne Feinstein Heading Up Judiciary Committee

Big, big update: CNN is reporting that Leahy has passed up the Appropriations Committee chair position, and will stay with Judiciary. 

Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) bolstered the hopes of marijuana policy reformers last week when he sent a letter to President Obama's drug czar discouraging federal raids in Colorado and Washington and promising to hold committee hearings on the conflicts between state and federal drug laws. 

A week later, Leahy's letter might as well have been a dream. He's leaving the Senate Judiciary Committee to take over Sen. Daniel Inouye's seat at Appropriations, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a committed drug warrior, is set to take over Judiciary

"It took a moment or two for my fingers and toes to uncurl" after hearing the news, wrote Allen St. Pierre, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in an email.

Despite the fact that "cannabis is more socio-politically accepted [in Feinstein's base of San Francisco] than any where else in the nation...[Feinstein] is one of the most anti-cannabis politicos in the modern era," St. Pierre said.  "Looks like most of the reform action will continue at the state level for the next few years, notably if Feinstein bottles up any federal legislation that may have a chance of rising out of committee hearings."

St. Pierre has good cause for concern. In 2009, Feinstein wrote a letter to a constituent saying that while she "recognizes marijuana may have medicinal properties" and doesn't "oppose further research on the potential medical efficacy of marijuana," she is opposed to "the legalization of any narcotic drugs, including marijuana." In 2010, Feinstein spoke out against Prop 19, the California ballot measure that sought to legalize recreational marijuana, calling it "a jumbled legal nightmare that will make our highways, our workplaces and our communities less safe." 

Whether she still feels this way is yet to be seen. As incoming head of the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein has already said her first priority in 2013 will be gun control.

Still, some marijuana reformers are hopeful that Feinstein, in light of the success of ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington, will be better on marijuana than her record suggests.  

"We look forward to working with Sen. Feinstein to develop a federal marijuana policy that respects the will of the voters in those states that have chosen to replace the underground marijuana market with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol," the Marijuana Policy Project's Steve Fox said in a statement. 

"President Obama recently highlighted the need for a conversation about how to reconcile state and federal marijuana laws. We hope Sen. Feinstein will facilitate that discussion so that we can arrive at a legislative solution that advances a state-based approach that does not undermine federal interests."

Others are coming down between Fox and St. Pierre--hopeful, but not too hopeful. 

"While she hasn't exactly been a friend to marijuana reform over the years, the fact is that public opinion is squarely on the side of letting states legalize marijuana if they want to," said Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. "And politically speaking, it's just going to be increasingly difficult for a Democrat to get away with using the Judiciary Committee chairmanship as a platform for drug war cheerleading." 

Angell hopes that Feinstein will "move forward with Chairman Leahy's plans," but also sees a way for Leahy to affect drug policy on the Appropriations Committee. "Hopefully Sen. Leahy, if he does indeed take over the Appropriations chairmanship, will help see to it that some of the most ineffective punishment and interdiction-focused drug war programs are de-prioritized or eliminated."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Still, some marijuana reformers are hopeful that Feinstein, in light of the success of ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana in Colorado and Washington, will be better on marijuana than her record suggests.

    And why not? If anyone is going to admit they were wrong or bow to public opinion, it is a lifetime politician in an unassailable seat.

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    Maybe marijuana really does make you stupid. Or maybe that's TEAM politics.

  • CE||

    Hey she's a Democrat, and young, hip people like us vote for Democrats. How bad can she be?

  • Tim||

    You're a towel Diane.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You're a towel.

  • Tim||

    Oh man, why is everyone ridin' me today?

  • Almanian.||

    You're the worst commenter EVER, Tim!

  • Rights-Minimalist Autocrat||

    "And politically speaking, it's just going to be increasingly difficult for a Democrat to get away with using the Judiciary Committee chairmanship as a platform for drug war cheerleading."

    Yeah, just like it would be politically difficult for a Democrat to crack down on medical marijuana, rain drones down on children, and get involved in an undeclared war.

    Feinstein can do whatever the hell she wants. She has one of the safest seats in the senate, along with Schumer and McCain.

  • Sevo||

    Feinstein has never been wrong on any decision she has ever made, so there is no reason for her to change her views at this time regardless of what the voters in a couple of 'non-California' states have decided.
    And if you doubt one bit of this, simply ask her; she will confirm every word.

  • ||

    It's pretty amazing how partisans can be both willing enablers of everything they say they are against while at the same time being "hopeful" that the very people they enable to do the exact opposite of what they say they want will then...do what they say they want, even though they never do.

    Being fucking stupid must suck.

  • nicole||

    I don't know, my understanding is that it is kinda blissful.

  • Carston||

    Indeed, intelligence is the burden, while ignorance is bliss.

  • Duncan20903||

    Ummm, the line that you've bastardized above is "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise" from "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College" written by Thomas Gray in 1742.

  • ||

    Rocko: You look pretty stupid to me.

    Lane Myer: Thank you.

  • SugarFree||

    I like that picture. It comforts me to know that she will somehow continue to look worse than that for a few more years and then die.

  • ||

    Are you kidding? Some prevert is no doubt furiously masturbating to that jowly neck imagining a wicked platysmal pleasuring from that throatgina of hers.

  • SugarFree||

    A pervert's pleasure dims my own in no way.

  • sarcasmic||

    "You sir are drunk!"
    "Why yes, I am. And you're ugly. In the morning I shall be sober."

  • Brandon||

    Reason Commenters Have Mixed Feelings About Lack of Alt-text.

  • Raston Bot||

    Feinstein has already said her first priority in 2013 will be gun control.

    First she'll disarm us (yeah, I know, not going to happen), and then she'll FYTW us.

  • Almanian.||

    But WHY? Oh, wait, never mind...

  • CE||

    On some of these politicians, you can almost see the effects of a lifelong pursuit of power and corruption on their faces. Or maybe I'm just projecting.

  • Raston Bot||

    Palpatine* with a wig.

    *post-electrocution

  • Christina||

    I, admittedly, know little about Dianne Feinstein, since I'm not a Californian. But I just did a little reading and she's the 9th wealthiest member of Congress, despite the fact that she has never had a real job.

  • Almanian.||

    *starts putting together election committee for Senate run*

  • Sevo||

    CA's real estate markets are famously distorted by gov't 'reforms', especially in SF.
    Her husband, while she's been mucking about in local and national government, has made a killing on real estate, especially in some SF markets.
    There is no connection between her positions and her husband's success. None whatsoever. Zero.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I love it when people call pot a narcotic. I always hear it in the Chief Wiggum voice.

  • ||

    Leahy has passed up the Appropriations Committee chair position, and will stay with Judiciary.

    If he is serious about decriminalizing drugs this is a good move.

    The moment to seize historic game changing legislation in regards to the drug war is right now.

  • waaminn||

    Dude has no idea what he is talking about dude.

    www.PrivacyUSA.tk

  • sohbet||

    super blogs thanks admins
    sohbet
    sohbet odaları

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement