It wasn’t enough for the Trump administration to put a thumb in the eye of California with its punitive tax law enacted last month. Now it wants to tar our beaches and tell us that we should happily return to the days of Leave it to Beaver.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Thursday plans to open much of our coastline to oil drilling, a political non-starter in California since a spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969 dumped 100,000 barrels of crude on our beaches. Understandably, reaction was intense.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to stop this reckless, short-sighted action,” said Gov. Jerry Brown, who vowed to join the governors of Oregon and Washington to “resist” an “insane course of action.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions rescinded Obama administration rules that restricted federal enforcement of marijuana laws – a policy enshrined in budget riders at least since 2014. Sessions urged the nation’s 93 federal prosecutors to start bringing cases against marijuana cultivation – with no distinction for those growing cannabis for medical or recreational purposes.
Never mind that the people of California, Colorado, Washington and 26 other states have made marijuana legal in some form.
It’s as if Sessions is yearning for a simpler time, when couples slept in twin beds and everything appeared in black and white. Sure, plenty of people still used marijuana back then, but they tended to keep it hidden. And the only people making money from it were back-alley dealers. Instead of going after epidemic opioid abuse, which killed an estimated 65,000 people in 2016, Sessions is launching an all-out attack on demon weed – which has no documented cases of overdose deaths. Not one.
If not outright malice, these actions represent federal overreach. Coming from the party that prides itself on supporting states rights, we smell a skunk.
The Republican National Committee’s 2016 platform, on which Trump nominally ran, extols the 10th Amendment – the one that gives states all the constitutional power not reserved by Uncle Sam or the people. “Every violation of state sovereignty by federal officials is not merely a transgression of one unit of government against another; it is an assault on the liberties of individual Americans,” the platform intones.
It was Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, an Orange County Republican who has used marijuana to ease arthritis pain, who pointed out the disconnect. “How ironic that the attorney general has long championed states’ rights when it suits other parts of his agenda.”
Sessions should back off. If he doesn’t, the U.S. Senate should make marijuana prosecutions a litmus test in confirming all future U.S. attorneys. That includes McGregor Scott, who awaits confirmation to become U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California.
In 2016, we endorsed Proposition 64 because thousands of people in our region were already using marijuana and many where growing and selling it. Recognizing reality meant we could better regulate cannabis then tax it. Most Californians took a similar approach. Besides, there is no constitutional prohibition against marijuana use, and federal statutes, which place weed in the same category as heroin, are as unrealistic as Sessions’ attempt to turn back the clock.
It’s clear the Trump administration doesn’t like California. He’s proving it by allowing his administration to push policies that harm our residents and our coastlines.
Resistance – in the courts and in the halls of Congress – should be our first priority. We must make certain that those we send to Washington share those priorities and our beliefs and that they aren’t marching in lockstep with an administration out to tarnish the Golden State.