Calif. Gubernatorial Candidates Cool to Legalization
None of the leading candidates for governor of California have embraced marijuana legalization despite polls showing majority support for the concept and predictions that legalizing and taxing the drug could generate $1.4 billion in annual revenues for the state, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Aug. 8.
Even Jerry Brown — the liberal icon, former governor and current attorney general who backed a law establishing minimal penalties for marijuana possession — dismissed the idea. “If the whole society starts getting stoned, we’re going to be even less competitive,” said Brown. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has called for thinking current drug policies but opposes marijuana legalization.
Republican Tom Campbell has supported funding for addiction treatment over interdiction and jailing drug offenders, but warns that legalizing marijuana will only strengthen Mexican drug cartels. Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay and another GOP candidate, said, “I am absolutely against legalizing marijuana for any reason. We have enough challenges in our society without heading down the path of drug legalization.”
Finally, a spokesperson for Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said, “The idea of legalizing drugs is one more bad idea from a bygone era. Nor can California smoke its way out of the structural budget deficit.”
California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has generated a great deal of press and attention with his bill to legalize and tax marijuana, but has not been able to attract a single legislative cosponsor.
“Supporting legalization probably risks losing [candidates] the support of law enforcement,” said Dale Gieringer, the California coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “I think opposing it is going to turn off some younger voters … the public’s perceptions are always ahead of the politicians.”