California's Senior Senator Favors Costly, Punitive Approaches in Lock-Step with the Drug War Lobby <br>
Senator Dianne Feinstein, co-chair of the No on 19 campaign, will appear with law enforcement officials today to express her opposition to the landmark marijuana legalization initiative.
Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the Drug Policy Alliance offered this statement:
"For those of us working to reverse our nation's disastrously failed drug policies, opposition from Dianne Feinstein is all-too familiar. California's senior Senator has a well-known soft spot for costly, punitive approaches to drug issues, despite ample evidence of their ineffectiveness and unpopularity. Senator Feinstein is out of step with Californians, particularly younger voters, while in lock-step with the regressive drug war lobby.
"Senator Feinstein has vigorously opposed sentencing reforms that offer treatment as a cheaper, more effective alternative to imprisonment for nonviolent drug offenders. Instead she favors enhancing and extending prison sentences in California and across the country. Systematically rejecting the recommendations of expert commissions, Senator Feinstein has championed policies that resulted in the United States attaining and maintaining the highest rate of incarceration in the world. She has even declined to co-sponsor Senator Jim Webb's bill establishing a commission to study our nation's bloated prison system – a bill whose co-sponsors already include 37 Democratic Senators, including California's Barbara Boxer, and 3 Republicans, including Utah's Orrin Hatch.
"While Senator Feinstein currently claims to support medical marijuana, she vehemently opposed California's original medical marijuana initiative, Proposition 215. The marijuana criminalization she continues to defend costs California hundreds of millions of dollars every year in scarce public safety dollars futilely policing a massive, unregulated black market. Marijuana prohibition inflicts criminal sanctions on 61,000 low-level possession offenders in California every year – triple the number in 1990. These failed prohibition policies are universally race-based in their selective enforcement, with African Americans and Latinos disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.
"While Dianne Feinstein has spent the last 18 years in Congress escalating the war on drugs, Americans have turned against that war and increasingly see regulating marijuana as part of a common sense exit strategy. As the public increasingly demands reform, her intransigence grows."