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A marijuana starter plant is for sale at a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, in this November 20, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY HEALTH BUSINESS)
Recently I began thinking about which issue could bring Democrats out in force for the 2014 election cycle. As we all know, non-Presidential elections are historically better for Republicans as older Americans are more likely to turn out to vote than younger Americans and minorities. However, could an issue such as weed get Democrats to finally begin turning out in force in midterm elections?

Now I firmly believe that jobs and the economy will be the main issue going into next year's election, but those issues are generally voted on and debated in Congress, not directly at the ballot box. If state voters are able to vote to legalize weed in their state, I believe they will turn out to do so, oh and while they are there, vote for a Democrat.

Both Democrats and Independents agree that weed should be legal. So while the marijuana issue might not get more Democrats elected in deep red states (I'm looking at you, Utah), it may still prove to be popular with voters in states such as Alaska and Arizona, which are among 6 states that are looking to put this up as a ballot issue next year. Heck, even John McCain now thinks that we should legalize weed.

Could weed be the issue that brings enough voters out to re-elect Senator Mark Begich in Alaska next year? Could it be the issue that helps Dems take back the House of Representatives? Sound off in the comments below.

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Comment Preferences

  •  At the very least THC-free medicinal weed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grich01, JDWolverton

    ought to be fully legal on state and federal levels, and covered under Medicare. Obviously anyone who goes through the trouble of  seeking legitimate medicinal marijuana is not interested in it for recreational use.

    •  ?? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Medical marijuana is scarcely TH- free.  Wouldn't that destroy the point?  

      And while medical marijuana evaluations are a certain amount of trouble and expense, the ones in my state seem to be something of a formality, with few to no denials.  Separating medical from recreational use is far from clear-cut, since everybody has health challenges sooner or later and everybody likes to feel good.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:43:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Without THC it wouldn't be very medicinal (3+ / 0-)

      Not sure why anyone would think otherwise. I guess that a pure CBD strain would be good for aches and pains, but a lot of people wouldn't benefit at all from that. I have a medicinal card here in CA, for the record. I'm also interested in it for recreational uses, although not terribly often.

  •  Too early to take it national (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grich01, JDWolverton, lgmcp

    Pick up a few more states with referenda and then turn it into a "states rights" issue.  Concentrate on making sure that the feds can't interfere with state decisions to legalize the weed.

    Once it becomes a significant source of state tax revenue and there is a large aboveground business community to lobby for it, the rest will get done.

    •  Umm... Marijuana is regulated by (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, erush1345

      the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. ( Before people start going ad hom, I did not write, nor vote to ratify, this treaty. I am merely stating it's existence, and applicability. Please look it up for yourselves.)

      Now take a look at Article 6 of the US Constitution- Where it says

      This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
      ( Bolding mine)
      I don't see a way to read that Article which allows states to ignore treaty, which is where WA and CO are right now.

      Near as I can see, the first time that either law ends up in a courtroom, the judge pretty much HAS to rule it unconstitutional.

      Can't be a " state's rights" thing- the states, in this instance, have no "right." Legally, the situation is the same as if say, Rhode Island, decided to start whaling again.

      DOJ has announced that they're not going to file the lawsuit ( which is a good idea, as it might be difficult to establish standing), but Idaho State cops certainly could. They'll have verifiable damages the first time that WA legal weed is seized in their jurisdiction.

      •  The same way that we can ignore other laws.. (2+ / 0-)

        ...through legislative action.  It's entirely possible to withdraw from the treaty.

        Also, as far as 'state's right' -- I would maintain that the states do have a right to regulate marijuana and that the federal government does not have the authority to regulate intrastate commerce, except for some really fucked up supreme court rulings that turned that on its head.  

        •  Constitutionality will be determined by a court, (0+ / 0-)

          not a legislature. The legislature then gets a chance to write a new law that would be constitutional.

          The courts have already decided that the Feds have the right to regulate intrastate commerce. Ya can argue about it, but it's long settled precedent.

          We certainly could and might want to, withdraw from the treaty. More likely, we want to hold onto the regulations on cocaine and opiates, so we want to renegotiate, not just walk out.

          Should be done. Great idea. Won't happen quickly.

          OT- really dislike the term "state's rights'- last time folks tossed that around, we had to have a civil war.

      •  Interesting, thanks. (0+ / 0-)

        Definitely an uphill battle to repeal an international treaty at the national level.  

        Damn shame they added cannabis in 1961.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:48:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The government can abrogate a treaty (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        spacecadet1, KenBee

        whenever it wants through making a new law. The new law will preempt the old law, the old law being the treaty. The states have no obligation to enforce federal law. I don't think it's a good idea to make this a state's rights issue as that's a loser in the long run. Legalizing on the federal level is the way to go. And you can look at Bush's abrogation of treaties as an example of how much force of law they have.

      •  well, it's complicated (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

            This provision was intended to give force to the Constitution's establishment of federal law as the Supreme Law of the land, to prevent states from carrying out their own foreign policy in defiance of national policy.  However, the federal system of government also gave states large powers, and individuals certain guaranteed rights and other unspecified rights.
             So, marijuana in states which have legalized it.  First, no state can prevent the federal government from enforcing federal anti-marijuana laws inside its borders. This is why, until Holder recently buckled under pressure from reality, there was a real possibility that people could be arrested by the feds in Colorado and Washington for doing things that state law allowed. But now any prosecutions must be state/local, and state law is definitive on those.
             Could some future Attorney-General reverse course? Yes, as long as the treaty and federal laws have not been changed, that could happen. But the political furor would be immense, and jury nullification would make prosecutions hopeless. Treaties making x illegal do not enforce themselves, and a sovereign nation can always choose to ignore them (see the Netherlands for evidence of this).
             Second, who would have standing to go to federal court to block this? It would have to be someone who has "standing" to sue. Who would that be, if not the national Attorney-General? If a neighboring state complains, they would have to show--I would think--that the pro-marijuana state law was in some way complicit in interstate transport of marijuana. I am not a lawyer, so my analogy that follows may be way off base. However, numerous states and localities maintained alcohol Prohibition after federal Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and a few scattered places still prohibit booze to this day. But no state has ever sued a neighboring state whose booze policy was different and won that I am aware of. State policies often differ, and no state has standing to enforce its own laws on neighboring ones. (Otherwise, back in the late 60's prior to Roe v Wade, pregnant women in Alabama could not have taken buses to New York to get an abortion).

        "Something has gone very wrong with America, not just its economy, but its ability to function as a democratic nation. And it’s hard to see when or how that wrongness will get fixed." Paul Krugman and Robin Wells

        by Reston history guy on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:27:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Somebody's got to enforce it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Neighboring states would not have standing to sue.

        The Justice Department might have standing (on the grounds that they are carrying out a treaty obligation, for example).  I don't think Obama is going to step in that and there's enough ambiguity to keep such a lawsuit in litigation for a long time.  In general, a treaty would pre-empt state law, but the exact parameters of this have never been litigated, so there's a lot of uncertainty.

        And some aggrieved signatory to the appropriate UN charter could also have standing to sue.  The problem is that such an action would be most unpopular in the US; you'd have all the votes you'd need to repudiate the treaty AND to get near-nationwide legalization of pot.  Remember that the standing part would take a lot of time (if it's Germany claiming that pot for Colorado was being trans-shipped through Hamburg and the resulting gang wars were causing collateral damage, they'd have standing.  If it was the wackjobs in Saudi Arabia trying to establish Sharia law, they'd be laughed out of court.)

        The point here is this: the average American couch potato has no concept of international law: to them it's the UN trying to regulate our domestic social policy.  This voids all of the racial/DFH politics that have kept these laws on the books: you UN black helicopters can't beat up on our DFH's; only WE can beat up on our DFH's.

    •  And to have mentioned, we need a better term than (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp, AoT
      State's rights
      , as that term will forever be associated with slaveowners.
    •  BS (0+ / 0-)

      Why can't I have my medicine? Fuck anyone who will tell a sick person what he/she can use.

      What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

      by Cpqemp on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:56:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's hard to know. This is an evolving issue (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grich01, lgmcp, spacecadet1

    In 2010 if we use California's vote against marijuana; those for it were male, white and 50ish. Those against were black and Latin voters. The initiative failed.

    A couple years later shows a shift, but what shifted isn't clear.

    In 2012 where marijuana passed in Colorado the pro marijuana demographics were closely tied to counties where Obama prevailed. Slate seems to think the shifting occurred in the religious community, a staunch anti-pot group, moving away from pot prohibition. Some say younger voters came into play. Some say wealthy resort areas were more pro pot. Clearly there needs to be a better survey before anyone can really say who a pro marijuana voter is in Colorado.

    Information about who voted for the State of Washington's marijuana initiative is less available. I've been trying to find out about the Washington voter breakdown for a while and can't find one. (It's got to exist, I'm just not finding it.)

    It does seem to appear that pro marijuana is corresponding to marriage equality with younger voters being more tolerant. It does appear that younger voters are more likely to come out and voter for a marijuana initiative from this one study. I think we need a couple more studies to confirm this.

    A Florida group is attempting to put a medical marijuana ballot initiative for the November 2014 election. They started in July and already have enough signatures for the Florida supreme court to review the ballot initiative's language.

    It's a thought were considering.

    If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never has and never will be. Thomas Jefferson

    by JDWolverton on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:25:46 AM PDT

  •  There will be political movement on this issue (0+ / 0-)

    but 2014 seems too soon to me.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:49:43 AM PDT

  •  The only question is do Democrats have the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cpqemp, Horace Boothroyd III

    courage to take it on?

    Magic Eight Ball says "No".

    The tent got so big it now stands for nothing.

    by Beelzebud on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 10:54:29 AM PDT

  •  likely to hurt Daylin Leach in PA-13 Dem primary (0+ / 0-)

    but because there will be at least 4 candidates, it would not by itself be fatal to his chances.  He supports full legalization, not just medical marijuana.

    In the general, it would hurt him but is such a blue District, it won't matter.

  •  I'm not sure if 2014 is too early or not, but (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cpqemp, grich01

    I sure hope they get their shit together and come out for full legalization soon.  The first party to claim it is going to reap the benefits of taking a stand for change.  The tide of public opinion across the spectrum has turned amazingly fast.

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:40:19 AM PDT

    •  politicians and courage...I mean 'courage' (0+ / 0-)

      and politically the so obvious reason they don't and haven't come out for full legalization is the instant smirking and finger pointing from the other has paralyzed any movement on the issue since forever and isn't likely to change with a platform plank. They will get not much money to support them, and will get money spent against them by the growers as well, a fact in Northern California.

      These aren't courageous people, they can pose as such..and maybe sometimes act politically 'courageous'...but the actual courage is the person converting a city house to an indoor grow, a weed worker working for some outlaw goon that may kill them as pay them, the forest growers trying not to get caught by the authorities, the smuggler hoping the cartel won't kill his family if he gets caught or makes a mistake.

      Courage is a policeman posing in an undercover capacity meeting some gangsters on a country road, a policeman coming to a house to serve a search warrant, a judge and DA convicting cartel growers in Mexico, that's courage.

      That is courage, and desperation, but don't equate that with any political 'courage'..they are certainly and in no way the same things.

       Actually, a recent example of political 'courage' is Gov Christie signing the New Jersey law...

      That repub-libertarian streak is a vulnerability to democrats with the mj issue, there are a lot of independent barely politically conscious voters who would be swayed by a full legalization effort...but ewe all have seen how totally couched and surrounded even the very limited medical mj support is with instant nanny babbling about responsible use, taxation, no minors, all the usual bibble babble from the 'responsible' people...still trying to control what people do, have done, and will do in spite of their bullshit centrist nannying....'courage'.... spit.

      This issue, more than most , is a 'make me do it' issue, the initiative is the only way the people can move the politicians....well, that, and the rare calls like the combined call for legalization in the combined press conference of Cal Rep. Jared Huffman (D) and the local Humboldt County Sheriff where they both called for new tougher legislation OR for the Fed to just back the fuck off totally OR for the Fed to FUND and enforce the current laws: now that is courage, politically 'couragous' as well, standing up for sense and problem solving..because the present law and reality isn't working. That was courage on Huffman's part, he is terrific and the next US Senator from California, and that can't come any time too soon.

      This machine kills Fascists.

      by KenBee on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:59:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If they don't, the GOP will...eventually (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Darwinian Detrius, grich01

    And it will be brutal to whoever stands in the way.

    Weed should be governed like tomatoes. Grow, share, buy, enjoy.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 11:54:40 AM PDT

  •  The tide is turning (0+ / 0-)

    From a pro-pot perspective, I would hate to see this used as a wedge issue. If the republicans want to, fine, they'll have made their bed one more time. But if it does become a wedge, we'll see a resurgence of Reefer Madness lies and propaganda on a large scale. Voters on the right who are getting high today will suddenly "realize" that the benevolence of pot was just another liberal lie all along and start foaming at the mouth about it. When you look at the cost of the drug war, especially the human cost, I'd rather not jeopardize the progress we've made.  

    One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain -Bob Marley

    by Darwinian Detritus on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:11:12 PM PDT

  •  depends on the state (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    grich01, spacecadet1

    but in new england and out west, legalization divides the right and unites the left with independents. it gets youth to turn out, and helps dems as long as they're not afraid of law enforcement calling them hippies, and are smart enough not to campaign against legalization.

    CA dems leveraged this issue fairly well in 2010.

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