Washington threatens Prop 19
As the vote on whether to endorse proposition 19 nears, the impact of the campaign battle has spread far beyond the state borders of California. The internal political dynamics of American politics has always been traditionally split down the middle, with two very different ideological philosophies governing how politics functions throughout the country. The liberal-conservative division runs deep, and polarises the two coastal regions with the internal states of the country that are dominated by republican and deeply conservative values in direct contrast to the liberal political culture of the east and west coast. These clashes of ideology have become even more divisive in recent years with Obamas stimulus package and Arizonaís immigration laws has signified just how entrenched these divisions are.
The vote on proposition 19 has become the latest battleground over these warring ideologies. Opponents of the prop 19 campaign have been vociferous in highlighting how the legislation is a further example of government getting too big and encroaching on the personal liberty of citizens, something they ludicrously label as an example of the governmentís socialist leanings.
However what is more interesting, is how the vote has also brought into question the wider relationship between the federal government and the state government and the conflict between the two. The Director of the National Drug Policy Control, Gil Kerlikowske has said justice officials are looking at ìall their optionî regarding the prop 19 ballot. In other words, theyíre exploring ways in which they can use the federal governments over-arching powers to block the legislation.
His response to being asked about the federal governments response to ballot, he said ìthe attorney general has made if clear that federal government will continue to enforce the marijuana laws under the Controlled Substances Act. It's a duty and responsibility of government. It's not something where they can say which laws they want to enforce and which they don't... That being said, the Department of Justice is looking at and in discussions about whatever options might be available." This clearly shows that if the proposition is passed, a legislative battle will ensue pitting California State against the federal government.
It is also worth bearing in mind that although marijuana policy reform has substantial support in California and in other liberal-leaning coastal states on both coasts, it is difficult to see such a proposition being passed elsewhere in the US. With mid-term elections looming, and the prospect of heavy democrat defeats across the country, overturning the California state government on marijuana reform could be a key tactic by Obamas administration to win back some of the middle-class voters who have turned there backs on the democratic party.