Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has long been one of Congress’s most vocal opponents of legalizing cannabis. But now she’s decided to support legislation to end federal prohibition, which would enable her own state to implement legalization without interference.
Signing on to the STATES Act reflects Feinstein’s continuing evolution on marijuana policy. After spending most of her political career opposing drug reform, including California’s 2016 recreational cannabis legalization initiative, Feinstein finally came out in May in support of allowing states to set their own marijuana laws. Feinstein told McClatchy news that “Federal law enforcement agents should not arrest Californians who are adhering to California law.”
Now it appears that, upon review, the STATES Act has become attractive to Feinstein as she joined a bipartisan group of congressional supporters of it.
Skeptics have questioned Feinstein’s motives for dropping her opposition to cannabis reform. Some have suggested that pressure from her progressive reelection challenger, State Sen. Kevin de Leon (D), encouraged the policy shift.
As the country heads into hotly contested midterms, many democrats are facing off against a more liberal wing of the party and are being pushed to accept progressive changes, such as cannabis legalization and reasonable drug policy reform.
One of the more obvious and high profile examples of this political phenomenon occurred in the lead up to New York’s democratic gubernatorial race between incumbent Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon, when Nixon’s pro-marijuana stance pushed the governor to publicly accept cannabis legalization.
Nixon's presence in the New York campaign created the so-called CynthiaEffect, clearly shifting the Democratic party towards more progressive policies.