Mimi vs Moorlach on Medical MJ: Must the GOP go down in a death embrace with the Drug War?

Mimi Walters, unreconstructed prohibitionist, is vying for an open OC Congress seat against fellow Republican John Moorlach, who favors medical marijuana.  Which one’s “right?”

Last year around this time I was asked to become a featured blogger for a great women’s activist website called Ladybud Magazine.  I started one of my original articles asking “what’s a nice girl like me, writing in a place like this?”  When approached by the Orange Juice Blog I had to ask myself, why would a libertarian-leaning Republican like me be willing to write in a Mosh Pit like this?  [Besides fitting right in – ed.]  This week I answered my own question and realized that I wanted to have a voice in the political process, have some fun, and possibly affect change in the community I live in.

My foray into writing about drug policy reform was an easy transition, but politics is a stretch in some ways.  However, this week I am able to tie politics and drug policy reform which makes this a great week for me.  A few days ago I was forwarded an email from the Mimi Walters campaign concerning what at first glance would appear to be her endorsement by the California Republican Assembly (CRA) over her opponent John Moorlach.  Who or what is the CRA?  According to Art Pedroza at the OC Politics Blog the CRA “is a grassroots organization that doesn’t have many members” but whose endorsement carries weight in conservative political circles.  Sort of like a CPAC lite!

Aaron Park.

Aaron Park, a writer for that blog, is a member of the CRA and the author of the article that the Walters campaign quoted. There are two issues that I need to address.  The first issue is that the Walters campaign only quoted a portion of Park’s article and left out the fact that she actually did NOT win their endorsement, coming in short on votes (14-9).  I know we don’t expect much from our politicians but it is disingenuous of the Walters Campaign not to admit that frankly she didn’t live up to CRA’s “conservative” ideals either.

My second issue, though, is that as a Republican in California I’m extremely frustrated by the Party’s unwillingness to evolve in order to stay relevant here. There are many reasons why we keep losing races and this quote by Mr. Park in his article on the recent CRA endorsements illustrates one of the big reasons why:

“Moorlach supports the decriminalization of Marijuana… However, within CRA supporting legal dope is a loser.”

[A brief interjection from Editor Vern:  The Moorlach tells me that Park mischaracterized his position, which is “I voted for the Medical ID card and was supportive of the proper usage of medical marijuana.”  He suspects Park’s exaggeration as due to Aaron’s being a “paid blogger,” something which we know about Aaron.  But Aaron tells me he is not being paid by Walters.  I’m sure he’ll be here to explain himself soon enough.  In any case, Diane’s points still stand, as Moorlach’s position is more forward-looking and freedom-loving than Walters, who is proud of having OPPOSED EVERY medical marijuana and drug policy reform bill, and yet somehow Moorlach’s position is considered a liability by these “conservatives.”  Right, carry on, Officer…]

As my face de-contorted from my Edvard Munch Scream moment, I thought this might be a good time to point out to the CRA and the Orange County GOP that even at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington DC that Marijuana was a focal point with its own panel presentation. Molly Ball, a journalist for the Atlantic, reporting from CPAC had this to say about “The Republican Parties Pot Dilemma”:

“It adds up to a quandary for the GOP: Should it embrace the unpopular position still disproportionately favored by its members and risk marginalization as a result? Or will the burgeoning conservative voices in favor of legalization win out? Simply put, do Republicans want to be on the losing side of yet another culture war?”

Significant polling has been and continues to be done on the issue of marijuana. In particular let me point out that a 2013 Pew Poll  shows that, despite differing on legalization and the morality question of allowing marijuana use, both parties shared the following views on the enforcement of the marijuana laws:

“57% of Republicans and 59% of Democrats say that the federal government should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that permit its use.  Substantial majorities of both Republicans (67%) and Democrats (71%) also say federal enforcement of marijuana laws is not worth the cost.”

As I write these words, CPAC itself has just released a poll showing support of full or partial legalization among self-identified “conservatives” :

It is these numbers, consistent polling  and conservative voices and media outlets such as Tom Tancredo, Pat Robertson,  Andrew SullivanThe National Review, and Outside The Beltway to name just a few that is fueling the change.  All these factors are contributing to Ball describing a one-side browbeating of conservative darling Christopher Beach by many members in his own party who recognize that the drug war is an abject failure and that marijuana should be legalized.  No different than the culture war surrounding gay marriage even CPAC conservatives are making arguments that support ending the drug war as a way to reduce government and promote liberty.  Mary Kathy Ham, a conservative blogger and journalist stated during the panel:

“… the truly conservative position is to let people make their own choices and to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars enforcing laws that don’t seem to work and that often have negative consequences. Even if legalization ends up having unanticipated negative consequences, those should be weighed against the lives no longer ruined by the drug war and the “moral value” of increased freedom.”

Can I get an AMEN, folks?  And now let us send out a collective prayer that the California GOP, the CRA, and that the Walters Campaign in particular, finally gets a clue that the elephant in the room (pun intended) is that their support for the drug war, and marijuana prohibition in particular, fuels the continued lack of relevancy that we are experiencing in our party – locally, at the state level, and nationally.

And let’s also give props to John Moorlach for being part of the FUTURE of the Party, on this issue at least.  I know it’s a rhetorical point, but I wonder if Republicans like Beach, Walters and others even recognize that their ideological view of marijuana is experiencing its last gasp, similar to the dinosaurs dying in the La Brea Tar Pits. The only difference for me is that I would have enjoyed seeing dinosaurs while I look forward to the extinction of this particular species of Republican.


About Diane Goldstein

Diane Goldstein is a 21-year veteran of law enforcement who retired as the first female lieutenant for the Redondo Beach Police Department, (CA). She is a speaker and Executive Board Member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a member of the Moms United To End The War on Drugs Steering Committee. She is a guest columnist for a variety of publications as well as appearing on television , and on radio as a political commentator.