Shalala's stance for marijuana 'justice' follows decades of cannabis opposition – Miami Herald
On the national holiday dedicated to all things marijuana, Donna Shalala joined the 420 party, declaring that if elected to Congress she’ll work to decriminalize cannabis and change federal laws that classify the drug as a narcotic without medicinal value.
“Decriminalizing marijuana shouldn’t just be a policy priority — but a moral imperative,” Shalala tweeted Friday, April 20.
It wasn’t a controversial stance to take for Shalala, who’s running in the Democratic primary to replace Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Congress. At a time when Florida is overseeing a government-sanctioned cannabis marketplace that just topped 100,000 users, not supporting the rescheduling of cannabis might be more newsworthy.
And that’s where Shalala stood not so long ago.
Before declaring her interest in Ros-Lehtinen’s seat, Shalala was known as a cannabis critic. For decades, and during her entire stint as Health and Human Services secretary under President Bill Clinton, she warned of the dangers of marijuana and criticized states that began to buck the federal government and establish their own medical markets. As recently as 2013, she was on record questioning her own party for its support of a medicinal marijuana market in Florida.
“Donna isn’t being honest about marijuana,” wrote Ben Pollara, the political consultant who led the recent effort to create Florida’s marijuana market by voter referendum. “Maybe she’s converted to the position she claims today, but for most of my 33 years alive, she’s been on the wrong side. She’s been an ADVOCATE for the wrong side.”
When California and Arizona passed the nation’s first medicinal marijuana ballot amendments in the mid-1990s, Shalala warned that “any law premised on the notion that marijuana or these other illicit drugs are medically useful is suspect.” Pollara, who now works for the campaign of Shalala competitor