Here's another great example why the Republican Party, and right-wing conservatism is general, is fading away as a cultural force.
The conservative-led Marion County (Oregon) Board of Commissioners and Salem City Council are talking up bans -- or severe restrictions -- on medical marijuana clinics.
Download Marion County takes stances against marijuana clinics
Download Salem City Council hears about medical marijuana dispensary plan
Medical marijuana is legal in Oregon. So are clinics where people with a medical marijuana prescription can buy their medicine without going onto the black market or growing their own (tough to do if you're a cancer patient dealing with chemotherapy).
Further, most knowledgable observers of the pot legalization scene are predicting that Oregon soon will join Washington and Colorado as a state that has given the OK to recreational marijuana use.
Yet in the behind-the-times Salem area, we have leading politicians like county commissioner Patti Milne tooting the long-discredited Reefer Madness horn.
The Marion County Board of Commissioners has passed a resolution opposing the legalization of marijuana and the operation medical marijuana clinics.
The resolution, which passed Wednesday, sets a direction for county policy and could lead to an outright ban on medical marijuana clinics in Marion County.
“We believe there is a detrimental effect to the health, safety, and, quite frankly, the peace of our community,” said Marion County Commissioner Patti Milne.
Yeah, right. Those cancer patients and post-traumatic-stress Iraq war veterans needing to imbibe some marijuana to feel better are a major threat to the peace of our community. Not.
If anyone needs a reason not to vote for Milne in her recently-announced bid to run against State Senate President Peter Courtney, this is a good one. Along with her role in the Courthouse Square debacle and a string of votes in favor of trashing the environment and paving over farmland.
I've heard that Salem Mayor Anna Peterson also is adamantly against both medical and recreational marijuana use.
Talk about being on the wrong side of history. Which, of course, is a hallmark of today's conservatives.
Gay marriage. Immigration reform. Marijuana legalization. Alternative transportation. Mixed-use urban design. Reducing carbon pollution.
Most people are on board with these evident cultural trends.
But locally too many of our politicians are belted-in to a fantastical Way Back Machine -- which they believe will allow them to preserve the not-so-good old days and prevent a better future from happening.
So, to offer up two examples among many, we get Reefer Madness redux, along with the Freeway Madness of politicians wanting to foist a $400-700 million Third Bridge across the Willamette onto taxpayers when there is absolutely no demonstrated need for one.
Facts are fearful to public officials like Milne and Peterson.
They threaten the tidy interior of closed minds. Believing that medical marijuana clinics are a threat to the health, safety, and peace of Marion County and Salem is a bizarre fantasy.
Fortunately, today a state Senate committee approved a bill that allows cities to regulate, but not ban, marijuana dispensaries. And a measure to send a recreational marijuana legalization bill to voters also has been approved by a committee.
Progress happens. That's why I'm proud to call myself a progressive. Meaning, an optimistic realist. Milne and Peterson can resist cultural change all they want. No matter. Change happens.