Why The Oregon Attorney General Race Has National Implications For Marijuana Laws

A former federal prosecutor has marijuana activists mobilizing against his campaign.

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 Nick Kahl, a former member of the Oregon state legislature and a Holton supporter, echoed these sentiments. "Ellen has said publicly that she will not enforce the law against those people who choose to run afoul of the marijuana laws," he says. "That's a huge concern for me ... For her to come out and pander to the pro-marijuana legalization advocates, I feel like it's out of line."

Rosenblum defends her comments, saying it is a question of resources and priorities. "I think that the attorney generals and DAs and anyone else in leadership positions in government have to set priorities for the department that's under their watch," she says. "That's what I meant by that."

Holton insists that the opposition from the activists is a "non-issue" and that Rosenblum is using it to raise money from national groups that support legalization of marijuana. And she does have support from such groups. Earlier this week, Drug Policy Action, the advocacy and political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group in favor of reforming the nation's drug laws, announced a contribution of $70,000.

If Holton loses on Tuesday, it won't be the first time marijuana activists will claim they were able to tip the scales of an election. In 2010, activists ran ads against Steve Cooley, a Los Angeles District Attorney they considered hostile to medical marijuana dispensaries, when he ran for attorney general of California. He lost by a slim margin, and activists think it was their ads that cost him the election.

Simon Owens is an Assistant Managing Editor at US News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Reach him at sowens@usnews.com

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