Drug Policy Action: Holton’s Defeat Sends Message to US Attorneys Nationwide That Attacks on Medical Marijuana Have Steep Political Price
Outcome Has National Implications for Increasingly Formidable Drug Policy Reform Movement
Medical marijuana was a major issue in the Democratic primary for Attorney General in Oregon – and the candidates’ starkly different positions on the issue ensured victory for former judge Ellen Rosenblum. Rosenblum is supportive of patients’ rights to safe and legal access to medical marijuana while her opponent, former Interim U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton, is sharply critical of the program. Although Holton was heavily favored early in the race, he was targeted for defeat by medical marijuana patients and their advocates after threatening medical marijuana providers and their landlords with property confiscation, and overseeing several medical marijuana raids while serving as interim U.S. Attorney last fall. In addition, Holton had pledged to work with Republican legislators who are “anxious” to change the medical marijuana law. With no Republican on the ballot in November, Rosenblum is all but certain to be the state’s next Attorney General.
Drug Policy Action, the political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, and a driving force behind the initiative that first legalized medical marijuana in Oregon in 1998, threw its support behind the Rosenblum campaign, with $100,000 in total donations to the campaign and to an Oregon group, Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement, during the final stretch of the campaign. John Sperling, an ally of Drug Policy Action who provided major support for the 1998 initiative, also contributed a total of $100,000 to Rosenblum and CSLE.
Jill Harris, Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives for Drug Policy Action, and a native of Eugene, OR, issued the following statement:
“Dwight Holton’s defeat in the Oregon Attorney General’s race should be taken as a clear and unambiguous message to U.S. Attorneys around the country and to the national Democratic leadership that attacking state-approved medical marijuana programs is not a smart political move. Medical marijuana has overwhelming public support – it is now legal in 16 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and national polls have consistently shown support in the 70-80% range for well over a decade. Drug war rhetoric and tactics will not be tolerated, and organizations like Drug Policy Action will be there to defend patients’ rights to safely access the medicine they need.”