Supporter of Oregon medical pot law wins attorney general race

PORTLAND, Oregon Wed May 16, 2012 2:28am EDT

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PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - In a primary election race for Oregon's top law enforcement post, the candidate who pledged to protect medical marijuana patients scored a decisive victory Tuesday night over a rival who led a cannabis crackdown last year.

Retired judge Ellen Rosenblum, strongly backed by proponents of liberalized marijuana laws, captured 63 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary for state attorney general, trailed by former U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton with 36 percent, according to early returns.

Because no Republicans sought their party's nomination for attorney general, the Democratic primary victor, Rosenblum, becomes the presumptive winner in November's general election, making her the first woman to claim that office.

With Rosenblum and Holton taking similar stances on issues such as consumer protection, civil rights and the environment, their diametrically opposed views on medical marijuana emerged as a key point of contention in the race, so much so that the campaign was seen largely as a referendum on drug policy generally.

"As attorney general, I will make marijuana enforcement a low priority, and protect the rights of medical marijuana patients," Rosenblum said on her website before the election.

By contrast, Holton called Oregon's medical marijuana law, which has left distribution and cultivation of pot largely unregulated, a "trainwreck" that was putting pot "in the hands of kids" and others who are using it for purposes other than pain management.

In a brief victory statement issued shortly after election officials began to tally the ballots, Rosenblum said she was "honored to have been selected by the voters of Oregon as their choice for the Democratic nominee (for) Attorney General of Oregon."

She made no mention of marijuana or any other specific issues. Nor did Holton, who in his concession statement thanked, among others, the coalition of organized labor groups that backed his candidacy.

But medical marijuana advocates seized on Rosenblum's win as a sign that voters were at odds with the federal government's recent crackdown on storefront cannabis shops in states that have legalized personal use, possession and cultivation of pot for healthcare reasons.

As Oregon's chief federal prosecutor last year, Holton was in the vanguard of that crackdown, sending letters to owners, operators and landlords of storefront pot outlets warning they faced prosecution and civil enforcement actions for involvement in the sale of cannabis.

While medical marijuana is legal in Oregon, the sale for profit of cannabis to any of the state's 55,000 registered cannabis patients is considered illegal, although growers can be reimbursed for supplies and utilities.

Even so, some medical marijuana "cafes" have sprung up in the state, drawing the ire of groups opposed to drug use.

The primary contest unfolded as two groups in Oregon are racing to collect enough signatures for two separate ballot initiatives seeking to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state.

If their efforts are successful, Oregon voters will join those in Colorado and Washington state who will decide on the matter in November. A total of 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow medical marijuana, though cannabis remains classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law.

Some experts predicted a Rosenblum triumph could resonate well outside of Oregon's largely Democratic-registered electorate.

"A victory for Rosenblum could have symbolic power which would reach beyond the state into the national debate," said University of Oregon political science professor Joe Lowndes.

(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (3)
malcolmkyle wrote:
This is a long overdue wake-up call to Holton and all those other vile prohibitionists who wish to continue with a policy that has proven itself to be a poison in the veins of our once so proud & free nation

Prohibition has finally run its course; our prisons are full, our economy is in ruins, the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans have been destroyed or severely disrupted, and what was once a shining beacon of liberty and prosperity has become a toxic, repressive, smoldering heap of hypocrisy and a gross affront to fundamental human decency.

Accordingly, it is now the duty of every last one of us to insure that the people who are responsible for this shameful situation are not simply left in peace to enjoy the wealth and status that their despicable actions have, until now, afforded them. Former and present Prohibitionists must not be allowed to remain untainted and untouched from the unconscionable acts that they have viciously committed on their fellow citizens. – They have provided us with neither safe communities nor safe streets; we will provide them with neither a safe haven to enjoy their ill-gotten gains nor the liberty to repeat such a similar atrocity!

If you’re a bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking, prohibitionist parasite who’s career has entailed subjecting the rest of us to off-the-scale corruption and lawlessness, then maybe you should consider moving to somewhere that won’t extradite you to a future national or international drug-war tribunal for your crimes against humanity.

Prohibition has evolved local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, helping them control vast swaths of territory while gifting them with significant social and military resources.

Those responsible for the shameful policy of prohibition shall not go unpunished!

May 16, 2012 4:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Paulpot wrote:
This is just another indicator for all future politicians and officials. Get green or go home.

And when the governor signs the bill Connecticut will be the 17th state + D.C. to legalize medical marijuana.

There is nothing that will stop the drug war from coming to an end.

May 16, 2012 4:42am EDT  --  Report as abuse
malcolmkyle wrote:
Let this be a wake-up call to Holton and all those other vile prohibitionists who wish to continue with a policy that has proven itself to be a poison in the veins of our once so proud & free nation

Prohibition has finally run its course; our prisons are full, our economy is in ruins, the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans have been destroyed or severely disrupted, and what was once a shining beacon of liberty and prosperity has become a toxic, repressive, smoldering heap of hypocrisy and a gross affront to fundamental human decency.

Accordingly, it is now the duty of every last one of us to insure that the people who are responsible for this shameful situation are not simply left in peace to enjoy the wealth and status that their despicable actions have, until now, afforded them. Former and present Prohibitionists must not be allowed to remain untainted and untouched from the unconscionable acts that they have viciously committed on their fellow citizens. – They have provided us with neither safe communities nor safe streets; we will provide them with neither a safe haven to enjoy their ill-gotten gains nor the liberty to repeat such a similar atrocity!

If you’re a bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking, prohibitionist parasite who’s career has entailed subjecting the rest of us to off-the-scale corruption and lawlessness, then maybe you should consider moving to somewhere that won’t extradite you to a future national or international drug-war tribunal for your crimes against humanity.

Prohibition has evolved local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, helping them control vast swaths of territory while gifting them with significant social and military resources.

Those responsible for the shameful policy of prohibition shall not go unpunished!

May 16, 2012 5:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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