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Radical Rant: If You Like Legal Marijuana, You Must Vote for Hillary (Sorry)

Russ Belville



The Democratic and Republican Conventions are over and after long, careful consideration, I have decided that anybody who truly wants to see marijuana legalized nationwide must vote for Hillary Clinton to become President of the United States.

Hold on there, don’t go jumping to the comments section yet to put me on blast for supporting a lying, warmongering, fracking, corrupt puppet of the One Percent. I’ve already beat you to it. I’ve probably written 20,000 words on how much I despise Hillary Clinton as a candidate. I was one of the loudest “Bernie Bros” out there and I, too, am furious about the fixed primary system revealed by WikiLeaks DNC email hack.

But as I worked through my anger to write up opinion pieces about how we need to stick it to the Democrats for screwing over Bernie Sanders, I found I couldn’t find a rational pathway that leads from denying Hillary Clinton the White House to greater expansion of marijuana legalization.
First, let’s dispense with the quadrennial flight of fancy that is the running of the third-party candidates. Yes, Gov. Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party is great on the legalization issue, and Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party is even better. But you know and I know — and even they know — they are not going to amass 270 Electoral College Votes necessary to become President. I wasn’t even a year old the last time a third party won any Electoral Votes back in 1968.

So, yeah, you could cast a feel-good vote for Johnson or Stein because they agree with you on legalizing marijuana, but to what end? They’ll have zero power over legalization policy and you’ll be doing nothing to stop the candidate who would dismantle legalization, Donald Trump. And if Johnson or Stein were actually successful enough to win a state’s Electoral Votes, it increases the chances nobody gets to 270, which kicks in the 12th Amendment election tiebreakers than guarantee Donald Trump becomes president.

I know, I know, you hate the two-party system, the corrupt oligarchy that offers us two puppets of the wealthy, the choice of Giant Douche or Turd Sandwich. But throwing the election to Donald Trump by denying Hillary Clinton the votes she needs to beat him is not the way to end the duopoly. If you really want to end Republican/Democratic dominance, you can’t just change the players, you’ve got to change the game, and that will require about twenty years of ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments, not a symbolic protest vote every four years.

You might be harboring the feeling that there’s really no difference between Clinton and Trump. If that’s really true, then what difference does it make which of them you vote for? Given the choice of two lying, corrupt multimillionaires, shouldn’t we at least pick the one whose convention audience looks more like America and who doesn’t demean women, gays, immigrants, the disabled, and religious minorities? Perhaps pick the one who has actually served as an elected official at any level?

Maybe you’re even thinking about voting for Trump, just because you hate Hillary Clinton that much or you have the delusion that he “alone” is going to “make America great again.” If so, I think you’re not putting a lot of thought into just how a Trump Administration would impact marijuana legalization.

Consider that a President Trump wouldn’t just be on your TV making “fantastic” speeches, “believe me.” He would be appointing the next Attorney General, the nation’s top cop, and the rumors are that it will be New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Do you need a refresher on exactly how shitty Christie would be for legalization? On the campaign trail, he told us to smoke up while we can in Colorado, because he would be shutting it all down and enforcing federal drug laws.

President Trump would also appoint the US Attorneys who decide whether to conduct raids on marijuana businesses and press charges against patients and growers. We have US Attorneys still today that prosecuted the so-called Kettle Falls Five, patients who were medically-legal in Washington State where recreational marijuana is legal, even under President Obama and with a memo from the Attorney General to knock that shit off. You think that gets better under Trump’s US Attorneys?

It goes even deeper than that. A President Trump would be appointing heads of EPA who decide which pesticides are approved for cannabis, heads of financial agencies that decide whether marijuana businesses are legit, heads of the IRS that decide whether to audit marijuana businesses and non-profits, and the head of the ONDCP and every other federal agency that would make a regulatory decision regarding cannabis. Imagine Chris Christie recommending Kevin Sabet as the nation’s Drug Czar.

Then there’s the biggest appointments: The Supreme Court. Right now the balance is four conservatives (Chief Justice Roberts, Justices Thomas, Alito, & Kennedy) and four liberals (Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, & Breyer). A President Trump adds at least one more conservative and Justices Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are over 80 or will be in Trump’s term. By 2020, Donald Trump could seat a 7-2 conservative majority that would last for 20 years. Do you want that court hearing the next lawsuit from some red state that wants to overturn another state’s legalization law? Or deciding whether there is a First Amendment right to use cannabis religiously?

Fine, fine, you might think, that’s all reasonable, but I just can’t vote for someone like Hillary who… fill in the blank. I feel you. You may even live in a non-swing state (guaranteed, like California, to go for Hillary or, like Texas, to go for Trump) and feel you can vote your conscience.

But consider what Hillary Clinton as president would be like if she only squeaks into office with an Electoral College victory, but lacks a popular vote majority (like her husband won the presidency in 1992 with just 43 percent of the vote, thanks to Ross Perot.) Or worse, if she wins the Electoral College but Trump gets more popular votes? She will tack more to the center than she already does naturally and she’ll be hesitant to champion any controversial issues like marijuana.

I know it sucks and I don’t want to do it either, but every scenario I can imagine for the future of marijuana legalization turns out better under a President Hillary Clinton than a President Donald Trump. Besides, this country needs to not just defeat a bigoted demagogue at the polls, but give him such a devastating defeat that the next demagogue knows he had no political future.
Photo: Getty Images
Last week’s Radical Rant:What Hillary Clinton Must Do