Dems, the Switzerland of Pot

Party executives cite concern for statewide candidates

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Jul 20, 2010  |  Updated 8:37 AM PDT
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Grow Your Own Medicine

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PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 21: A Switzerland fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group H match between Chile and Switzerland at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on June 21, 2010 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

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Supporters of Proposition 19, the Tax Cannabis Act that would decriminalize and tax marijuana in California if approved by voters in November, got a win and a draw over the weekend.

The draw came on the part of the Democratic Party's decision to neither endorse nor oppose the ballot measure.

While the board supports the ballot measure, it feared that an endorsement might hurt the prospects of party-backed candidates in close statewide races, including Attorney General Jerry Brown's gubernatorial run and Senator Barbara Boxer's re-election campaign.

Supporters of an endorsement argued that the popularity of the measure among young voters would actually help party candidates. But Brown and Boxer have both argued against legalization, leaving supporters relieved that at least the state party won't actively oppose the initiative.

The win, if a small one, was the addition of former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders' endorsement, with her name added to the rebuttal to the anti-Prop 19 rebuttal in the voter information guide.

Elders, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1993, served only 18 months as the nation's top doctor after taking a number of controversial stances on public health issues, including drug decriminalization.

Joining Elders in signing the rebuttal are California NAACP President Alice Huffman and David Doddridge, a retired Los Angeles Police Department narcotics detective.

Jackson West admits that he had forgotten how cool Elders was for considering drug legalization, national healthcare reform and rational sex education.

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