The same week President Obama “evolved” out of the gay marriage closet, congressional Democrats tried to evolve federal medical marijuana laws with a bipartisan amendment:
None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.
Republicans voted overwhelmingly against the bill. Democrats were in favor. But both parties are the same, etc. I’m also sure someone will remind me how awful President Obama has been on medical marijuana, but as I keep saying there is actually not much he can do to change the laws; that requires Congress.
The real question is whether party and potheads can come together — never mind the president. Medical marijuana has popular bipartisan support, and it’s a particularly potent youth issue. Meanwhile, Democrats have a huge brand problem. Ask ten Democrats what their party stands for, and they will have ten responses. Democrats have tried to hold the center by “hippie punching” on progressive issues, and there is no more visibly “hippie” issue than marijuana.
I have said before that the key to understanding marijuana politics is that cannabis culture is exactly that, a culture. As comedian Jimmy Kimmel recently reminded the president at the Correspondents’ Dinner, cultures respond to pressure, usually in the negative. Marijuana culture has suffered official repression in the United States for decades; it is not going away. Democrats should consider the possibilities.