Is the Orange County Republican Party in reality our local “Marijuana Party”?


Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, titular head of Orange County’s local “Marijuana Party”.

Earlier yesterday, I had a very brief email exchange with some fellow Green Party members to assuage concerns that the public might end up branding our political party a “Marijuana Party” if statewide candidates like myself decided to campaign heavily on the theme of legalizing pot up until election day.

But I pointed out, however, that such fears were unwarranted, because the title of “Marijuana Party” already belongs to the Republicans here in Orange County: prominent people linked to that body have come out favoring the liberalization of laws prohibiting the use of marijuana and industrial hemp.

I cited at least three well-known examples:

* James P. Gray, formerly an Orange County Superior Court Judge, has been a strong advocate of legalizing marijuana and industrial hemp since 1993. Now a Libertarian, he was originally a lifelong Republican.

* Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican Congressman in the 46th Congressional District, has signed letters favoring pot decriminalization and has co-sponsored federal legislation to legalize medical marijuana.

* Chuck DeVore, a Republican State Assemblyman in the 70th Assembly District, not long ago co-sponsored a bill that would have legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp in the State of California.

Although Assemblyman DeVore has made it perfectly clear he is opposed to Proposition 19, the irony here is that he, Rohrabacher, and Gray as Republicans have done more work to make weed legal than every single Democratic Party politician who has ever served in public office behind the Orange Curtain.

To her credit, Democratic Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who is fighting to retain her seat against termed-out Republican State Assemblyman Van Tran and Independent candidate Cecilia Iglesias, came out in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes on nationwide television earlier last year.

But what Sanchez has done for pot is pretty pale in contrast to Rohrabacher, whose Huntington Beach office is literally the Grand Central Station of marijuana legalization efforts in Orange County. I’m told that he’s even personally met with leaders of several pro-cannabis groups who live in his district.

So anybody who fears the Green Party will be harmed if it is labeled a “Marijuana Party,” guess again. Here in Orange County, the Republican Party laid first claim to that title many years ago. All I’m suggesting that the Greens do is snatch it away from them before the Democrats start to catch on.

For purposes of disclosure, Duane Roberts is the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in the State of California.

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