California: Democratic Party Grants Brownie Mary Democrats Statewide Charter


It took a year to happen, but on Sunday, August 16, history was made as the Brownie Mary Democrats of California received by unanimous vote of the Executive Board of the California Democratic Party, their statewide organizational charter.

"BMDC now joins only four chartered statewide organizations in representing the interests of its members to the Democratic Party," said Lanny Swerdlow, RN, president of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of Riverside County.

"I would like to thank all of you who took a minute and sent the California Democratic Party an email of support for the BMDC application," Swerdlow said. "Although there was no opposition of any kind to the application, the 66 supporting emails were duly noted and indicated to the Party the widespread support for marijuana law reform and for the Democratic Party to take a leading role in bringing marijuana prohibition to an end.

"Not only was there no opposition, but when approval of the application for the Brownie Mary Democrats of California was announced as part of the consent calendar, hundreds of people gave it a spontaneous round of applause which they had not really done for much of anything else that was announced as part of the consent calendar," Swerdlow said. "It seems Democrats like marijuana or at least ending marijuana prohibition.

"Even more interesting is during the Executive Session when Party positions on Israel-Palestine issues and death with dignity legislation were being considered, there was heated and passionate debate on all sides," Swerdlow said. "When it came to giving official California Democratic Party state chartered status to a club advocating for marijuana legalization, no one batted an eyelash.

"Marijuana legalization is now as accepted a Democratic Party value as the right of LGTB citizens to equal protection and participation," Swerdlow said.

"The chartering of the Brownie Mary Democrats of California is really something of a big thing," Swerdlow said. "The largest state political party in the country recognizes ending marijuana prohibition is a significant issue and is willing to allow the group to use the prestige and political power of the Democratic Party to achieve it. Hopefully this will spread to other state Democratic parties.

"A person at the Executive Board asked if our Brownie Mary Democratic Clubs will still function on the local level and the answer is a resounding YES! Most of the action is on the local level protecting access for medical marijuana patients and working on the local level to end marijuana prohibition," Swerdlow said.

"This is where marijuana activists can work with their local Democratic Party colleagues to protect access for medical marijuana patients and to work with local politicians from Congress on down to end marijuana prohibition," Swerdlow said. "This is where monthly meetings provide avenues of access for activists to get involved and really accomplish meaningful and effective political change.

"The Brownie Mary Democrats of California work on the state and national level," Swerdlow said. "Now that the statewide has its charter, it is time to start working. Organizational meetings will be scheduled but regular meetings will most likely only take place twice a year – once at the state convention and once at the Executive Board meeting.

"These meetings will provide the perfect opportunity for BMDC members throughout California to get together, share and network," Swerdlow sazid. "Most importantly it will also give local BMDC members access to Party officials as well statewide officeholders – both elected and those aspiring to be elected. BMDC members will have the opportunity to be involved in the political process and be making a difference that matters..

"An item on the BMDC bucket list is to have a plank considered for adoption into the Democratic Party’s National Platform at the National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016," Swerdlow said. "The plank would be identical to the plank adopted by the California Democratic Party which calls for the 'legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana in a manner similar to tobacco and alcohol.'

"I have been informed that introducing a plank that is already in a state’s platform gives it added momentum," Swerdlow said. "There are similar planks in a number of other state Democratic Party platforms, so there is a real chance that support for marijuana legalization can become the policy of the National Democratic Party. This support will be given four months BEFORE the multiple adult-use marijuana and medical marijuana legalization initiatives will be voted on in up to a dozen states.

"There are millions of Democrats sitting on the fence on this issue and getting the official support of the Democratic Party will give a significant number of them a reason to get off on our side of the fence," Swerdlow said.

Photo of Lanny Swerdlow: