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Why Don't The Gubernatorial Candidates Support Marijuana Legalization?

by: Robert Cruickshank

Sun Mar 28, 2010 at 15:10:51 PM PDT

This was a particularly depressing article from the Sacramento Bee:

All three leading guv hopefuls oppose legalizing weed for recreational use.

"I've already indicated that that's not a provision I am likely to support," Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown told a gathering of law enforcement officials in Sacramento this week. "I have been on the side of law enforcement for a long time, and you can be sure that we will be together on this November ballot."

GOP candidate Meg Whitman's spokeswoman, Sarah Pompei, said Whitman is "absolutely against legalizing marijuana for any reason. ... She believes we have enough challenges in our society without heading down the path of drug legalization."

Steve Poizner's communications director, Jarrod Agen, said Poizner "feels we need an across-the-board tax cut to reignite our state's economy, not an attempt to smoke our way out of the budget deficit."

These statements are damning evidence of just how disconnected from California public opinion these three candidates are - 56% of Californians support legalizing and taxing marijuana, according to the Field Poll from April 2009. Support for legal marijuana is an idea fully in the mainstream of the state's electorate, especially in the tightly regulated forms proposed in the legalization initiative that qualified for the November ballot last week, or in Assemblymember Tom Ammiano's AB 390.

It also suggests a certain lack of seriousness about exploring all reasonable options to deal with the state's budget deficit. Jerry Brown is particularly disappointing on this, even if his stance isn't at all surprising. Brown has gone around the state pointing out, correctly, that we spend too much money on prisons at the cost of other core services, such as schools. Brown also signed a bill in his first year as governor in 1975, sponsored by then-State Senator George Moscone, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Unfortunately, in recent years Brown has been totally unwilling to revisit the sentencing policies that produce those high prison costs. He opposed Proposition 5 in 2008, which would have provided sensible sentencing reform and was widely supported by drug treatment professionals. That didn't move Jerry Brown then and doesn't appear to move him now.

Brown's framing of his opposition to legalization - that he's "on the side of law enforcement" - is both inaccurate and profoundly unhelpful. Groups such as Law Enforcement Professionals Against Prohibition (LEAP) are strongly supportive of legalization. Many local police agencies and county prosecutors would welcome the ability to shift their attention away from pot and toward actual threats to public safety, especially at a time when police budgets are under stress.

Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner are no less out of touch for their opposition, even if it is also unsurprising. Both Whitman and Poizner apparently believe they must hold the line against ANY new tax, in order to justify their reckless plans for massive new tax giveaways to their wealthy friends.

All three candidates are turning down what could be as much as $1.4 billion (according to the Board of Equalization study of AB 390) in desperately needed budget savings, coming from new taxes on marijuana.

In the absence of leadership from the gubernatorial candidates, Californians will have to lead the way themselves this November by voting to approve the legalization initiative.

Robert Cruickshank :: Why Don't The Gubernatorial Candidates Support Marijuana Legalization?
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I don't think any of the candidates for A. G. support it either (0.00 / 0)
   except maybe Greens, Libertarians and Peace and Freedomites. I heard several of the Democratic candidates for Attorney General at the DP/SFV forum a couple of weeks ago. All of them had some support for medical cannabis (some supporting more restrictions on it) but all opposed the legalization initiative. Not all the candidates were there but most were including Assemblymembers Lieu, Nava and Torrico, the Facebook guy Chris Kelly, and former L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. (I have no idea why Rocky is running; he is damaged goods and can't be elected AG. If somehow he were nominated he is the only one who would lose to a GOPer for sure. You almost wonder what he is drinking or smoking to be so delusional about his political prospects.)

the Feds (0.00 / 0)
I don't have anything legalizing Marijuana and taxing It, But My fear is that the Feds would jump in and threaten to seize any tax money generated by the sales(forfeiture). If It gets on the ballot I'll vote for It.

It will be on the ballot (5.00 / 1)
   it has the sigs needed and has been certified for the November ballot. I am skeptical about it passing, but then I didn't think 215 would pass either so I hope I am wrong again.

[ Parent ]
I'm sure an across-the-board tax cut (0.00 / 0)
would naturally end the demand for marijuana.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

For that matter, I also suspect (5.00 / 2)
that tax cuts will restore the California salmon population to its former glory, end the drought, and create a fairer redistricting process.

Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

[ Parent ]
if jerry brown doesn't need the base... (0.00 / 0)
then I guess he can afford to be as nonchalant about this election as he chooses to be.

as for me, and an assuredly large percentage of the democratic base, there seems to be little reason to offer anything other than a vote to jerry brown.

I will not give $ to jerry brown. I will not GOTV for jerry brown. I won't do anything for jerry brown's campaign, nor will many other skeptical or unimpressed portions of the CA democratic base. Simply because Jerry Brown is doing very little to advance much in the way of a progressive agenda. Is he even giving the impression that he might do so AFTER an election? Because he's pretty limp on the campaign trail, so far, if what he's done even COUNTS as campaigning.

Jerry Brown is threatening to be the new martha coakley- a lazy and ineffective candidate.

agreed (0.00 / 0)
Jerry's missing a golden opportunity. The political nexus of labor and stoners covers pretty much 75% of the California electorate.  

[ Parent ]
Now there's a shocker (5.00 / 1)
Gubernatorial candidates have their heads lodged firmly and deeply up into their own large intestines when it comes to what the voting public wants.

In other news, water is wet.

i can think of two reasons. (0.00 / 0)
or, maybe, three.

(a) they don't support legalization because they think that doing so will cause them to lose more votes (from people who just can't bring themselves to support anyone who supports it) than it will gain them (from people who will only support someone who supports it). the basic idea is that: opponents of legalization are more likely to view supporting legalization as a scarlet letter than proponents are to view opposing legalization as a scarlet letter.

[I think that's probably true, to be honest].

(b) they've gotten so used to the idea that legalization is politically poisonous that they can't adjust to the possibility that suddenly it isn't.

(c) they've been surrounded by establishment types for long enough that they've bought into the cultural assumptions that paint marijuana use as being beyond the pale.

$1.4 Billion? (0.00 / 0)
I didn't read the whole study, but is this number ONLY anticipated tax revenues?  What about savings from law enforcement activities and incarcerations?  And while early-releasing convicts who wouldn't have been prosecuted at all post-passage won't solve our prison population issues, it sure won't hurt...

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