Thursday, October 13, 2016

Marijuana and Election 2016: Grading the Candidates and Measures on Pot-Friendliness

By David Downs
Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 10:18 AM

The deadline to register to vote in California is eleven days out. Vote by mail packets are already hitting mailboxes statewide.

For folks hoping to end the drug war, there’s ample opportunity up and down the ballot to express the will of the people, whether it be: voting in local city council members and county supervisors who will decide if your town can have a medical dispensary — and eventually a recreational one; voting in state races to pick representatives who will defend and expand safe access at the state level, a well as shield the industry from rapacious special interests; to voting for Congress members and Senators who will decide if banking reform and tax reforms get a hearing in Congress, let alone a floor vote, or approval.

click to enlarge California's multi-billion cannabis industry hangs in the balance of the General Election. - DAVID DOWNS
  • David Downs
  • California's multi-billion cannabis industry hangs in the balance of the General Election.
The Drug Policy Forum of California, an influential online site, has released its General Election Voters Guide to Drug Policy Reform recently. The beefy Guide covers candidates and state measures, highlighting pro-reform votes in green, anti-reform votes in red, and neutral votes black.

Of note:

— The DPFCA Voter Guide is technically neutral on California legalization Prop. 64, but mostly endorses it, with fears about tickets for smoking in public, and taxes.

“Observers agree that a victory for legalization in California would be a powerful boost for marijuana reform both nationally and internationally. On the other hand, defeat would undoubtedly be interpreted as a major setback to legalization and likely invite a crackdown,” the DPFCA Guide states.

— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets a "neutral" vote, and so does Republican nominee Donald Trump. However, Trump’s second in command Mike Pence is totally anti-reform. Libertarian candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and Green party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein advocate full legalization of marijuana, and get the DPFCA’s green light.

— In the race for Sen. Boxer’s seat, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County clinches a green light from reformers, while Attorney General Kamala Harris gets a "neutral" rating.

“More seriously, Harris failed to speak up against the federal crackdown on dispensaries in California, despite the fact that as former District Attorney of San Francisco she should have known that the city’s dispensaries were working well and the federal charges against them were bogus. … her lack of leadership in the state has been troubling.” 
— Over in the races for open Congressional seats, DPFCA highlights the die-hard prohibitionists who want to represent you in Congress, specifically calling for voters to send home in defeat: Doug LaMalfa (R- Redding/ N.E. Cal.); Jeff Denham (R-Modesto); Darrell Issa (R-Vista); Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield); Scott Jones (R-Sacramento Co.); Casey Lucas (R-Monterey); and Paul Chabot (R-San Bernardino).

Rep. La Malfa thinks pot should be considered as dangerous as heroin, and has said “any measure that would continue to keep it as a controlled substance I would support." 


All across inland and Southern California, voters can defeat recalcitrant Republicans — like in Rancho Cordova/Roseville where pro-reform Democrat Ami Bera is battling former Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who is "100% against" legalization. Pro-reform voters can make a difference in races in Monterey, Squaw Valley, California City, Palmdale, San Bernardino, Irvine, Orange County, and Oceanside.

— Also, there are about 50 local ballot measures related to cannabis.

Read the full Guide to see your local legislative races and ballot measures, as well.

And to those who say 'voting amounts to tacit support for a corrupt system', we reply, “Cool. So when the revolution starts, should we just send you an email or something?”

As Lt. Gov. Newsom told the cannabis industry this summer in Oakland, “Our actions matter. By doing nothing, you’ve done everything, by abdicating any responsibility for the world we’re living in.”

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