Senator Dianne Feinstein has experienced a successful career in California politics. She has been actively involved in public life since the 1960’s. She took over as the mayor of San Francisco in 1978 and has served as a United States Senator for the past 25 years. Last week, Senator Feinstein announced that she will be campaigning for her sixth consecutive term.
Meet Challenger Kevin de León
California Senate President pro tempore Kevin de León announced he will run against Feinstein for the California Senate seat. Unlike the moderate Feinstein, de León is a hyper-progressive politician who has fought for “progressive California values in important policy efforts like immigration, women’s rights, quality education, civil rights, job creation and fighting climate change.”
While he hasn’t been an active vocal supporter of reform, de León has received praise from cannabis advocates for his progressive views on cannabis. He has voted in favor of marijuana legalization in the past, including the Prop 64 vote in 2016 which legalized adult recreational cannabis use in the state of California.
Senator Dianne Feinstein Cannabis Stance
Feinstein has been a key figure for the Democratic party over the past 25 years. Yet she has been one of the most outspoken critics of cannabis reform during her time in office. In fact Senator Feinstein voted against Proposition 215 in 1996 – which legalized medical marijuana use in California. She also did not support Proposition 64 in 2016. Feinstein said she was concerned about “millions of children and teenage viewers” being brainwashed into using cannabis- a statement that a Prop 64 spokesman said was “reminiscent of the ‘reefer madness’-style disinformation campaigns that subverted honest dialogue around this issue for decades.”
Feinstein has also voted against the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that aims to protect medical marijuana states from Justice Department infringement. Based on her voting record, Senator Feinstein is clearly against the idea of legalizing marijuana in California.
We don’t know if de León will challenge Senator Feinstein on her anti-cannabis views. Some think this would be a valuable political tool for de León, who is running against Feinstein from the left to challenge her antiquated views on cannabis and its affect on society. A de León victory would be a boost for pro-marijuana legislators in Congress.
Why Pro-Cannabis Congress Members Want A de León Victory
Currently, the Congress has very few members who openly support cannabis legalization. The bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus, formed in February of this year, has only four members and has yet to push any meaningful legislation into law.
One of its members, Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher, is half of the namesake for the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that he believes won’t be renewed in the 2018 budget bill. If this bill is eliminated, the Jeff Sessions led Justice Department will no longer be blocked from using federal funds to prosecute states where medical marijuana is currently legal. If this happens California dispensaries and growers will see regular DEA raids.
California voters will likely identify more with de León’s progressive views on cannabis legalization. He will still likely face an uphill battle against Senator Feinstein, who in 2012 received more votes than any Senatorial candidate in U.S. history.