Into the Carterverse #36 (Marijuana Mismanagement)
Into The Carterverse
"Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marijuana in private for personal use... Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce [28g] of marijuana."
- Jimmy Carter, 1977
Cannabis, known popularly by a variety of other names such as Marijuana , Weed , Pot , Dope, Grass and many others had been illegal in the US officially since 1970 but in reality had been stigmatised since early in the 20th century. The drug had been scaremongered about for several reasons from the government since the 30s following Harry J Anslinger's personal crusade against the drug. The extreme claims of insanity and death had been dispuited quite often by scientists but the messaging stuck well.
The movement to decriminalise the drug up to certain possessions had been endorsed by president crater in the 70s but lack of political will by congress caused no federal action on drug reform for the time. Some smaller action on local funding for harm reduction programmes and rehab facilities had been given some political support. But decriminalisation of marijuana would clearly require support from either the judicial branch or the executive branch.
Jimmy Carter had never dared to use his power to support his personal view that possession up to 28 Grams should be decriminalised, however, Mondale's advisors on the issue had continued to push him on the issue. Mondale had not campaigned on such an issue so remained sceptical on it but his views were starting to change alongside those of Americans. With continual softening of drug rhetoric support for legalization was creeping towards 50%.
After much deliberation over it Mondale made the bold move on the 11th of August 1986 and signed an executive order to decriminalise the possession of over 28 grams of marijuana paired with an address to the nation over drug usage.
“I have decided today to decriminalise the possession of up to 28 Grams of Marijuana. We have tried our hardest to progress to a world without drugs. In my heart this is what I still want to do but logic and science dictates that this is the way to go. We have made strides in the past decade to prevent drug usage and harm caused by drugs. But it is also clear that for Marijuana our law causes more harm than the drug ever could.”
- Walter Mondale, 11th of August 1986
The executive order was met with shock within the democratic party and utter condemnation from the republican party. The campaign against the drug was widely supported by both parties but the conservative wing of the republicans had the harshest rhetoric. Certainly the effect the drug had was damaging especially to the young but the claims of the conservatives against the drug that had labelled it as dangerous perpetuated fear in the country.
Immediately the republican PACS aired attack ads against the president in the campaign for the midterm elections. Competitive races showed narrowed polling and democrats being in trouble for re-election. Senators in the South such as Jim Folsom of Alabama, Bill Gunther of Florida, Robert Morgan of North Carolina, Fritz Hollings of South Carolina and Dale Bumpers of Arkansas. Candidates like Hamilton Jordan of Georgia and John Breaux of Louisisana were also at risk of losing the seats to the republicans after the previous senators retirement. Northern senators like Pete Fklathery of Pennsylvainia and Elizabeth Holtzman of New York were also now at trouble of losing their seats to the republican party. Possible promising candidates like Barabara Mukulski of Maryland had diminished chances of winning.
In the runnup to the midterms although seen as a good policy the decriminalisation by executive order became political poison and threatened to derail the era of Democratic domination of the past decade.
President Mondale's Adress to the nation on the Decriminalisation of Marijuana, 11th August 1986
Speaking of elections, speculative candidates for the republican presidential primary had now started being discussed. After ruining the reputations and egos of several possible republicans such as Howard Baker, Jack Kemp, George Bush and Bob Dole there was several new faces in the articles over who would be a possible nominee. The most discussed were:
(ages are as of inauguration day 1989)
Rev. Pat Robertson (58)
Pat Robertson and his evangelical views were still on the rise and a run in
'88 was likely from him to please his growing fanbase after his '84 run to
continue his moral crusade, invigorated by the Mondale Presidency.
Gov. Pete du Pont (53)
Pro-Business, Anti-Environmentalism and Anti-Welfare. DuPont was a rising figure
in the Republicans and looked to make a splash on the national stage.
Sen. Nancy Landon Kassenbaum (56)
Establishment through and through, Nancy Kassenbaum would almost certainly have
the support of the influential Bob Dole if she were to run being her fellow senator
from Kansas. Representing a more moderate wing of the party, liberal on social issues.
Sen. Maureen Reagan (48)
The senator from California taking the senate by storm. Her so called
"Compassionate Conservative" style being liberal on social issues and promoting
the free-market and privatisation to improve the country. She was a moderatley popular
Sen. Gordon Humphrey (48)
Senator from New Hampshire. Conservative and outspoken Humphrey had
made some controversy for himself after his comments on the supreme court
decision decriminalising homosexuality. He was also a fan of
Privitaisation of Education and a fan of lowering taxes.
Rep. Lynn Morley (49)
At the time Lynn Morley was running for the senate, she had politically
shifted further left during her time in the house and was perhaps one of the
most liberal republicans in office at the time. She was a proponent of bipartisanship.
She was very socially liberal for a republican even outflanking some democrats.
She had even symbolically changed her last name back to her maiden name instead
of keeping her married name "Martin" a few months after the ERA was ratified.
She wasnt even certain to win the senate race but she sure could represent the liberal wing well.
Sec. Donald Rumsfeld (56)
Rumsfeld had come back into publicity recently after being out of the limelight
after his stint as Sec. of Defence against the foreign policy of the Mondale Admin.
Specific policy such as supporting international interventions such as in an Afghanistan situation.
He wasnt that influential of a figure by 1986 but the possiblity was there to build a