California Enters 2018 as a ‘Sanctuary State’ and Pot Haven
Golden State defied President Donald Trump's strict anti-illegal immigration agenda and legalized recreational marijuana sales
The state defied President Donald Trump’s efforts to tighten immigration enforcement policies when California’s legislature passed the sanctuary measure in September 2017. Brown signed it into law the following month. It became law on New Year’s Day 2018.
The new edict prohibits local law enforcement officials from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status and prevents them from aiding federal immigration enforcement officials in most cases.
Asked by LifeZette what the Justice Department can do in response to the California action, Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said a federal suit should be filed "against California much the way that the Obama Justice Department sued Arizona, Alabama, a number of other states, when they implemented state laws that said that they were going to try to enforce laws that the Obama administration didn't want enforced."
Mehlman added that "the Justice Department is bigger, stronger and has more money than California has. These are not insignificant things — federal lawsuits. And at the same time, they would be sending a message to other states: Don't do what California's doing."
California's new sanctuary law drew mockery as soon as it was approved by legislative officials. Signs of unknown origin reading, "OFFICIAL SANCTUARY STATE, Felons, Illegals and MS13 Welcome! Democrats Need The Votes!" began popping up underneath official "Welcome to California" signs soon after the law's passage.
Federal officials reacted strongly, too.
"By passing this bill, California politicians have chosen to prioritize politics over public safety," Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said in a statement in September. "Disturbingly, the legislation serves to codify a dangerous policy that deliberately obstructs our country's immigration laws and shelters serious criminal alien offenders."
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders urged California to "push back" on their governor's "irresponsible decision." Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the Los Angeles Times that the bill "risks the safety of good law enforcement officers and the safety of the neighborhoods that need their protection the most."
But the sanctuary law wasn't the only controversial measure that greeted California on Jan. 1, 2018. Voters approved Proposition 64 in 2016 legalizing recreational marijuana sales. Advocates claim this measure could generate more than $1 billion in tax revenue, but anti-legalization advocates warned that legalization would bear detrimental consequences.OMG! Look at this sign someone put up on the 15 Freeway between LA and Las Vegas!— Kambree Kawahine Koa (@KamVTV) January 1, 2018
It reads :
Welcome to California. Official Sanctuary State.
Felons, Illegals and MS13 Welcome
Democrats need the Votes! #NewYearsDay pic.twitter.com/pc5xRnqZIB
"You know, this is not something that's really well thought out by the practitioners — the people that smoke this stuff," said Dr. Ramin Oskoui, a Washington, D.C., area cardiologist.
"They don't seem to realize that if they are smoking marijuana and getting into a car accident or do something stupid, they could hurt themselves or others — just as with alcohol," Oskoui said. "And the only people that are profiting are going to be the federal government and the state governments who are taxing the sale of this product and the growers."
Related: California Sheriffs Slam 'Sanctuary State' Bill
Oskoui said it is important to distinguish between "legitimate, medical" marijuana usage and recreational marijuana usage when tackling the legalization controversy.
"I think there's no doubt that the reason marijuana today is being legalized is essentially for tax revenue," Oskoui said. "I'm saddened this thing has happened, but I think it's a sign of the times. And I don't think it's a coincidence that some of the states that are most desperate for tax revenue are the ones that have legalized this."
The "only upside" Oskoui found with California's legalization of recreational marijuana sales was that perhaps "the drugs will be more carefully monitored for purity and toxins and pathological fungus."
"Maybe it will be a safer product," Oskoui said. "It's kind of a sad, larger commentary on our society that we have to numb ourselves to reality."
California's new pot law also drew a rebuke from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, saying "I firmly believe that pot is a gateway drug, and something that we should be educating our children about."
McDaniel was speaking Tuesday on LifeZette co-founder Laura Ingraham's radio program.