Pot Politics: Here’s How Medical Marijuana Can Influence Elections


As the medical marijuana debate continues in New York, there’s a bit of news from the West Coast that might interest vote-seeking Empire State pols: Looks like prescription pot can make or break a candidate.

Here’s what’s up: in Oregon, two Dems faced off in a primary for the chance to run for State Attorney General.

One of the contenders, onetime interim U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton, was vehemently against medical marijuana, calling Oregon’s law a “train wreck” and was well known for wanting to crack down on the state’s legal cannabis clubs and bourgeoning dispensary scene, the Associated Press reports.

Contrast Holton with Ellen Rosenblum. The retired state appeals court judge ran against Holton in the primary. She said she didn’t really care about medical marijuana, calling it a “low priority.”

Rosenblum beat Holton in the contest last week — undeniably helped by the pro-pot lobby, which accounted for 25 percent of her campaign cash.

Rosenblum’s approach to reefer isn’t altogether that different than that of Amanda Marshall, Oregon’s new U.S. Attorney, who doesn’t seem to buy the Feds’ hardline approach to medical marijuana, either. Marshall told reporters: “I’m not here to say this law is good or bad or to suggest future legislation or future policy direction…People say, ‘You’re the U.S. attorney, are you going to go after medical marijuana?’ No I’m not. I don’t care about medical marijuana.”

Marshall said she’s more concerned with interstate trafficking than personal use. Since 1998, Oregonian patients have been allowed to own up to six plants. A push for California-style dispensaries was rejected by voters in 2010. The number of these establishments, however, has been steadily growing.

What remains to be seen: How some U.S. attorney generals’ open dissent against federal drug policy — such as Marshall’s — will impact the overall enforcement of these laws.

Check back to the Voice for updates.