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Dianne Feinstein Tries to Play the Big Villain in the Fight for Legal Pot

Feinstein is the poster figure against Prop 19, trotting out lame-duck allies and hackneyed, incorrect arguments.

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"I am working on a comprehensive package of legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – the leading cause of global warming – from all sectors of the economy," Feinstein's mission statement on the global climate crisis explained. "Every business, home, and industry will have to do its part."

One would hope that would mean ramping up local industrial hemp production, currently illegal, which made obvious sense to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who both grew it. California's lumber industry had its worst year ever in 2009, which would smart less if hemp, one of the fastest-growing and environmentally friendly biomasses on Earth, was grown and forested locally rather than expensively imported from Canada and China. Hemp should also make Feinstein smile, since her environmental mission mandates that America increase its supply of biofuels.

"The fact that hemp does not need to have land cleared to grow it, grows faster than any of the crops currently used and leaves the ground in a better state when it is harvested should surely be enough for it to be considered a perfect crop to offset the carbon currently produced by fossil fuels and by the less efficient biofuels," argued Giulio Sica in the Guardian. "Surely if it was mass-produced," he added, its drawbacks "could be overcome and its many benefits as an efficient biofuel could be harnessed."

But in spite of convincing economic, political, cultural and environmental arguments, to say nothing of history itself, Senator Feinstein has added her clout to an opposition running on empty. Whether this is because she doesn't feel like staving off critics -- although even anachronistic whiners like Glenn Beck and so-called tea partiers are leaning towards decriminalization --  or because she honestly believes her astounding claim that "California will not see a single positive result if Proposition 19 passes" is besides the point. In California, we like to get ahead of history when possible, and Proposition 19 is an obvious example of our revolutionary political spirit. Feinstein is standing in the way. Let's hope she moves out the way before she's steamrolled by history.

Scott Thill runs the online mag Morphizm.com. His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.

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