Where California Gubernatorial Candidates Stand on Marijuana

Where California Gubernatorial Candidates Stand on Marijuana

Twenty-seven candidates are competing to become California’s next governor, but only a select few are considered viable based on recent polling. So where do those candidates stand on marijuana policy?

Marijuana Moment examined the cannabis records of each top contender in Tuesday primary. Here’s what we found…

California Democratic gubernatorial candidates

Gavin Newsom, California lieutenant governor 

Generally seen as the favorite to come out on top in the primary, Newsom has repeatedly emphasized the importance of cannabis reform on the campaign trail. He endorsed California’s successful 2016 ballot initiative, Proposition 64, to legalize marijuana for adult use and has pledged to defend the state against any attempts by the federal government to interfere in its legal cannabis program.

Before the proposition was even filed, Newsom, in partnership with the ACLU and others, formed a Blue Ribbon Commission that examined and reported on the various elements of cannabis regulation, the results of which were used to craft the legalization measure itself.

He was also one of the first statewide officials in the country to throw his support behind full legalization. In 2012, The New York Times wrote that Newsom “supports its legalization, a notable position for a Democrat widely considered one of the leading contenders to be the next governor.” (Emphasis added).

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo in January—which provided some protections for states that have legalized against federal interference—Newsom said in a press release that the move “destructively doubled down on the failed, costly and racially discriminatory policy of marijuana criminalization, trampling on the will of California voters and a year-long bipartisan implementation process led by Governor Brown and the California Legislature.” The statement continued:

“This position defies facts and logic, threatens the promise of a safe, stable, and legal regulatory framework being pursued by twenty-nine different states, and continues the Trump Administration’s cynical war on America’s largest state – and its people and progress – through immigration crackdowns, tax increases, climate policy reversals, health care repeals and now marijuana policing. It also flies in the face of the overwhelming public opinion of a vast majority of Americans, who support marijuana legalization.”

Antonio Villaraigosa, former Los Angeles mayor

Though Villaraigoa was initially reluctant to back efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in California, he ultimately endorsed Proposition 64, just days before the election. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, the former mayor said that he took his time “on this measure because I wanted to make sure it included protections for children and public safety.”

Satisfied that the measure did meet these standards, Villaraigoa said he was “convinced there are enough safeguards to make it a workable proposition.”

During a debate in January, Villaraigosa was also the first to raise his hand when asked whether any of the candidates had consumed cannabis, Leafly reported.

John Chiang, California treasurer

As California’s treasurer, Chiang has made a concerted effort to flag concerns about banking issues in the cannabis industry. He’s previously called for a study to explore the institution of a public, state banking system to accommodate legal marijuana businesses, which face challenges in securing accounts and credit lines as a consequence of federal prohibition. Because marijuana businesses are frequently denied federally backed banking options, they’re often forced to deal in cash transactions, leaving them vulnerable to criminal targeting.

“California and other states will need to lead when it comes to bringing the cannabis industry out of the shadows so that it can be properly regulated to prevent sales to minors, to protect the public’s health and safety, and ensure cannabis businesses behave as legitimate, tax-paying members of our economy,” Chiang told The Los Angeles Times in January. “The recent action taken by Atty. Gen. Sessions threatens us with new national divisiveness and casts into turmoil a newly established industry that is creating jobs and tax revenues.”

In 2017, Chiang outlined a series of steps he was proposing to fix the marijuana banking issue. In a press release, he said it’s “unfair and a public safety risk to require a legal industry to haul duffle bags of cash to pay taxes, employees and utility bills,” and that the “reliance on cash paints a target on the back of cannabis operators and makes them and the general public vulnerable to violence and organized crime.”

The state treasurer did not publicly endorse Proposition 64, but later said that he voted for the measure.

“However, it must be properly regulated with the appropriate transparency, including adequate disclosure of THC content and adulteration,” Chiang said during the campaign, according to The Sacramento Bee. “Local governments should be able to place appropriate limits on the location and density of outlets. Furthermore I want to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect minors from access and advertising.”

Delaine Eastin, former California superintendent of public instruction

Eastin said that she respected California voters’ decision to legalize recreational marijuana and sent a message to the federal government to “keep its mitts off” the state’s legal program in a March interview.

Speaking with the Ukiah Daily Journal last year, the former state superintendent of public instruction characterized federal marijuana prohibition as a failure but said that she would have preferred an amended version of Proposition 64 with higher taxes on recreational cannabis. She also suggested that users can become addicted to marijuana. Here’s her full response:

“To be honest with you, we tried making marijuana illegal, and that hasn’t worked so well. I just don’t think it makes sense for us to be thuggish about something that is not intrinsically evil. I will say that I think the initiative [Proposition 64] could have been written more strongly. I probably would have taxed the product more, I would have put the money into mental health programs and done something that moved the needle on some of the problems that can come out of either alcoholism or drug addiction. And people can become addicted to marijuana — I’m sorry, you can become dysfunctional. So, I thought it wasn’t a particularly well-written initiative, but the general idea of it, to not make it such a criminal offense, I think is commonsensical.”

California Republican gubernatorial candidates

John Cox, attorney

The attorney is on the record supporting medical marijuana.

However, Cox made headlines earlier this year after making a controversial proposal to “put people who use marijuana in hospitals and cure them of their substance abuse.” He’s since walked back that statement, telling San Diego NPR affiliate KPBS that his comments were misinterpreted.

“I clearly did not say that recreational pot users should go to hospitals,” he told the station. “I talked about heroin. I talked about abuse of drugs that are addicting like heroin and opioids.”

“We should do what Portugal does—not put those people in jail but put them in the hospitals and get them well. That’s the right solution. Marijuana, no.”

Travis Allen, California assemblyman

Arguably the least progressive viable candidate when it comes to cannabis policy, Allen has been dismissive of California’s recreational marijuana program—and he’s said that other states such as Colorado have seen “disastrous consequence” post-legalization.

According to Leafly, Allen said in a May debate that “[t]he voters of California voted for medical marijuana, and I think a lot of Californians can understand that. It helps you with your nausea from cancer or for your glaucoma. Whatever it happens to be, a lot of voters are okay with that.”

But he went on to say that “legalized recreational marijuana will have disastrous consequences in California, as we have already seen in Colorado.”

The California assemblyman has also consistently voted against marijuana reform bills, including measures to restrict state cooperation with federal marijuana enforcement efforts and establish a statewide regulatory system to oversee California’s medical marijuana program.

A look ahead to November

Under California law the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will face off in November. Depending on the results of Tuesday’s primary, that means there could be no Republican candidate on the gubernatorial general election ballot.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Where California Gubernatorial Candidates Stand on Marijuana

Congressional Republicans Block Votes On Hemp Amendments

Congressional Republicans Block Votes On Hemp Amendments

In the latest development in a series of anti-cannabis moves, congressional Republican leadership has blocked consideration of several industrial hemp amendments.

Supporters were seeking to attach the measures to the large-scale Farm Bill, which sets food and agriculture policy for the country, but the House Rules Committee on Wednesday decided that the proposals cannot be considered on the floor.

The anti-cannabis chairman of the panel did, however, reveal that a broader deal for industrial hemp might be in the works.

One of the measures the committee killed, submitted by Reps. James Comer (R-KY) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), along with a bipartisan list of cosponsors, would have legalized hemp and made it eligible for crop insurance.

“Hemp is a crop with a long and rich history in our country,” Comer said in introducing his amendment before the committee. “It was grown by many of our founding fathers.”

Comer, who is a former Kentucky agriculture commissioner, said his state’s existing industrial hemp research program, which is authorized under a previous Farm Bill enacted in 2014, “has been a great success.”

He also spoke about the economic potential of the plant. “Times are tough in rural america,” he said. “For rural Kentuckians, industrial hemp has provided a new crop and business opportunity.”

But in a party-line move, the committee voted 8 to 3 to reject a motion to add Comer’s amendment to the list of proposals approved for floor consideration.

Another hemp amendment, filed by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Jared Polis (D-CO), would have removed hemp from the list of federally banned substances.

A third proposal, submitted by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), sought to create “a safe harbor for financial institutions that provide services to hemp legitimate businesses” that operate under state-authorized research programs.

“There is a proud history in American and in Kentucky [for hemp] as an agriculture product,” Barr said when testifying for his amendment, noting that it can be used in over 25,000 products.

Under current law, banks that work with legitimate hemp companies “fear reprisal from federal regulators,” Barr said, arguing that his proposed measure would protect financial institutions “from unnecessary interference from bank examiners and regulators” and give producers rights that “every other American crop enjoys.”

The committee did not hold specific votes on those two measures.

Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) has made a consistent practice of blocking cannabis measures from advancing over the past several years.

Sessions, seemingly mistakenly, told Comer during the Wednesday hearing that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has “a clause…that industrial hemp should be declassified under their Schedule I drugs, which they concur, which is the position you hold, too.”

A hemp lobbyist told Marijuana Moment in an email that he had not heard of the DEA taking a pro-hemp position.

Polis, who as a Rules Committee member made the unsuccessful motion to let the full House vote on Comer’s amendment, argued that hemp is a “common sense area” that enjoys bipartisan support. The measure, he said, would simply “treat industrial hemp as the agricultural commodity that it is.”

While Sessions and other GOP panel members were not swayed, the chairman did hint just before the vote that there may still be hope for hemp reform, saying that the issue would be “determined by an agreement that would be reached” with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

McConnell last month filed a hemp legalization bill, which Comer’s amendment closely modeled. Fully a fifth of the Senate is now signed on as cosponsoring that legislation, and the majority leader has already announced plans to attach his hemp language to the version of the Farm Bill being considered by the Senate this month.

While it is unclear what exactly Sessions was suggesting when he referred to an “agreement” with McConnell, it may have been a reference to the conference committee process that will merge the House and Senate’s respective versions of the Farm Bill into a single proposal after each chamber passes its legislation. If McConnell succeeds in attaching hemp legalization to the Senate bill, it would then be up for consideration as part of the final legislation sent to President Trump for signing into law.

In 2014, McConnell successfully inserted a provision to prevent federal interference in hemp research programs in that year’s version of the Farm Bill.

https://massroots.wpengine.com/news/congress-considers-three-hemp-amendments-farm-bill/

Read the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Congressional Republicans Block Votes On Hemp Amendments

Congressional Black Caucus Pushes Major Marijuana Reforms

Congressional Black Caucus Pushes Major Marijuana Reforms

Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) introduced a 1,227-page bill on Thursday that calls for the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act—among many other far-reaching proposals—as part of an effort to foster racial justice and stimulate job growth in the United States.

Not only is the caucus, headed by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), seeking federal cannabis reform, the Jobs and Justice Act would also establish a “reinvestment fund” for communities adversely impacted by the war on drugs. That would include grants for job training, funds to clear past cannabis convictions, public libraries and community centers, according to the text of the bill.

The Jobs and Justice Act would also eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug offenses. It’s comprehensive in scope, including numerous provisions such as prohibiting racial profiling, abolishing the federal death penalty, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and making mid-term and presidential elections federal holidays.

“2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,” a statement from the CBC reads. “While Dr. King is well known for his efforts to champion social justice issues, he and many other civil rights activists of the day fought for economic justice as well. In addition to voting rights and equal protections under the law, every man, woman, and child deserves equal access to economic opportunities.”

The new bill comes as the Marijuana Justice Act, which was introduced with a similar intent to end racially disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws across the country, is gaining momentum. The legislation, filed by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)—and co-sponsored by several other potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and most recently, Kamala Harris (D-CA)—would end the federal prohibition of cannabis and penalize states with disproportionate marijuana enforcement.

Though the Jobs and Justice Act appears unlikely advance in the current Congress, it serves as the latest signal that federal marijuana politics are shifting at a rapid pace—and Democrats certainly seem to be working to capitalize on the issue’s popularity among voters.

https://massroots.wpengine.com/news/kamala-harris-officially-marijuana-legalization/

See the full text of the Jobs and Justice Act below:

[scribd id=378936072 key=key-CNOQ5Cat9zSmW3D4xU8J mode=scroll]

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Congressional Black Caucus Pushes Major Marijuana Reforms

Kamala Harris Is Officially All In On Marijuana Legalization

Kamala Harris Is Officially All In On Marijuana Legalization

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is the latest potential 2020 presidential candidate to support marijuana legalization.

The California senator announced on Thursday that she is signing onto a far-reaching bill to end the federal prohibition of cannabis, The Marijuana Justice Act, introduced last year by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

“It’s the smart thing to do. It’s the right thing to do,” she said in an interview with NowThis. “And I know this as a former prosecutor, I know this as a senator, and I know it when I just look at what we want as a country and where we need to be instead of where we’ve been.”

Harris has now joined the ranks of other potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders who’ve endorsed the legislation, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kirsten Gillibrand(D-NY). Booker himself is believed to be exploring a run for the party’s nomination as well.

Harris has faced criticism from legalization advocates for recently making public statements about the importance of federal cannabis reform, while until now declining to introduce or co-sponsor legislation that would actually accomplish that.

The Marijuana Justice Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act so that states could legalize without federal interference, and would withhold funding from states that maintain criminalization and continue to have racially disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates for cannabis.

The legislation would also direct federal courts to expunge prior marijuana convictions and allow people punished under disproportionately enforced cannabis laws to file civil lawsuits against those states.

Money withheld from states with discriminatory marijuana policies would be used to fund job training and libraries.

The Thursday announcement about signing onto the bill represents a stark reversal for Harris who, as California attorney general in 2014, simply laughed in a reporter’s face in response to a question about her position on marijuana.

Nevertheless, Harris’s move serves as yet another example of the rapid evolution in U.S. marijuana politics, with a growing number of high-profile lawmakers apparently recognizing the political capital of taking a pro-legalization approach to federal marijuana policy.

https://massroots.wpengine.com/news/democratic-group-sees-political-value-marijuana/

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Kamala Harris Is Officially All In On Marijuana Legalization

What Tuesday’s Primary Elections Mean for Marijuana

What Tuesday’s Primary Elections Mean for Marijuana

The results from Tuesday’s congressional and gubernatorial primary elections are in, and while the candidates campaigned on wide-ranging platforms, some of the results could mean a lot for state and federal marijuana reform.

Marijuana Moment put together a recap, examining where several of the primary winners stand on cannabis. While a number of other House primary elections took place throughout the country, the list below includes races where marijuana issues were relatively prominent.

Indiana U.S. Senate Primary

Republican winner: Mike Braun

During a debate last month, Braun said: “I think if a state wants to go to medical marijuana, it ought to be their prerogative.” But he also said that he was still “out on the issue” when it comes to his personal support for medical cannabis. It’s not clear based on that statement whether the businessman meant that he was undecided or opposed to reform, but he went on to say that “states are a great laboratory,” indicating that if elected to the Senate he would support efforts to scale back federal prohibition, at least when it comes to medical use.

“It’s happening right in front of us,” Braun said during the debate. “We’ll see what happens.”

Marijuana Moment reached out to Braun’s campaign office for clarification. This story will be updated if a response is received.

Of note is that Braun beat out two Republican challengers who have voiced steadfast opposition to marijuana legalization and have consistently voted against reform amendments as U.S. House members.

Democratic incumbent: Sen. Joe Donnelly

The incumbent senator earned a “D” rating from the pro-legalization group NORML due to his consistent failure to support federal legislation to reform marijuana laws. In 2007, during his time in the House, he voted against a measure to prevent federal interference in states where marijuana is legal. According to Civilized, Donnelly has said that it would not be “prudent” to legalize or decriminalize cannabis.

Ohio Gubernatorial Primary

Democratic winner: Richard Cordray

Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has been sheepish about his personal stance on marijuana legalization. However, he’s been critical of Ohio’s medical marijuana program, which he feels was poorly implemented.

In a statement sent to Marijuana Moment last week, a spokesperson for Cordray said that he’d “fix the botched implementation” of the program” if elected and would also respect “voters’ right to propose a new [recreational marijuana legalization] referendum” and “follow the will of the voters if it comes to a vote.” The spokesperson declined to comment on Cordray’s personal feelings about recreational legalization.

Republican winner: Mike DeWine

While DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, has been relatively quiet about his stance on medical marijuana, he did say in 2014 that he thinks legalizing the plant for recreational purposes would be “a mistake.”

At a press conference with law enforcement, he acknowledged that legalization could take the substance off the black market and lead to fewer deaths from gang violence. That said, he still felt legalization would send a bad message to youth, saying that experts informed him that cannabis was a gateway drug to heroin “in some cases” and expressing concern that full legalization would mean “more people killed by someone who is high on marijuana” on highways. He’s also rejected several petitions to change that state constitution with respect to cannabis reform—though he’s attributed those rejection decisions to issues with the language of the petitions, not the underlying policy issue.

Ohio U.S. Senate Primary

Republican winner: U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci

The U.S. congressman hasn’t said much about marijuana, and he also hasn’t supported federal legislation to reform the country’s cannabis laws—including measures to protect legal states from federal interference, provide marijuana businesses with banking access, or allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend cannabis to patients.

In a recent interview with the Dayton Daily News, he did provide some insights into his perspective on the issue. Renacci said that he was “closely watching” Ohio’s medical marijuana program and voiced clear opposition to recreational marijuana legalization.

Democratic incumbent: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown 

Like many career politicians on Capitol Hill, Brown’s position on cannabis has evolved over the years. But that hasn’t necessarily been reflected in terms of introducing or co-sponsoring reform legislation.

Earlier, this year, when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo—which offered some protections against federal intervention in states where marijuana had been legalized—he spoke out, arguing that the Sessions should “mind the store on other things” and “put his efforts into this terrible addiction issue about opioids and worry less about medical marijuana.” However, Brown has also peddled the debunked gateway drug theory that marijuana leads users to harder drugs, and he’s said that he felt concerned that legalization would increase youth consumption. Brown is on the record defending the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, stating that “the evidence is in that [marijuana] works for a number of patients.”

West Virginia U.S. Senate Primary

Republican winner: Patrick Morrisey

The West Virginia attorney general has said that it was important to be “open-minded” about medical marijuana legalization because it “may provide some relief to those who truly may be in need and hurting.” However, Morrisey was clear during a debate hosted by local television station WSAZ last month that he was “opposed to it for recreational use.”

https://www.facebook.com/wsaz3/videos/10155920981524702/

Morrisey said that recreational marijuana was “another gateway into this terrible drug problem.” 

Democratic winner: U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin

Though Manchin has faced criticism over his opposition to the legalization of cannabis—most recently during an April 5 town hall event where the senator was booed for suggesting that the substance was a gateway drug—he did reportedly cast a voice vote in support of a spending amendment that prevents federal intervention in state medical cannabis laws.

According to NORML, Manchin also said that he “would lean more to listen to the doctors, the professionals who are responsible for our health,” with respect to marijuana reform.

West Virginia U.S. House Primary (District 3)

Democratic winner: Richard Ojeda

The state senator and former Army veteran is decidedly pro-legalization. He sponsored a bill to legalize medical marijuana in West Virginia last year, which was signed into law by the governor on April 19, 2017. A statement on Ojeda’s campaign site makes his stance clear:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5GaJbqbHxE

“Through comprehensive cannabis legislation, encompassing decriminalization, medical, and industrial use, we can utilize one of the most medically beneficial and economically viable plants on Earth to fight the opioid epidemic, generate revenue to fund new education and infrastructure initiatives, and address the problem of overpopulation within our state correctional facilities,” it states. “With a comprehensive approach to cannabis policy, we can put West Virginia on a path to a prosperous future and grow a new economy that will benefit the people of our state for generations to come.”

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

What Tuesday’s Primary Elections Mean for Marijuana

 

McConnell And Schumer Discuss Each Other’s Cannabis Bills

McConnell And Schumer Discuss Each Other’s Cannabis Bills

The U.S. Senate’s top Republican and Democrat might be working together to legalize industrial hemp, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are ready to team up broader marijuana reform.

“I do not have any plans to endorse legalization of marijuana,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Tuesday when asked about whether he is prepared to back a cannabis descheduling bill that Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he will file soon.

“These are two entirely separate plants,” said the GOP leader, who recently filed his own legislation to remove industrial hemp from the federal definition of marijuana.

The Democratic leader became a cosponsor of that bill this week.

“There is a lot of confusion about what hemp is,” McConnell said. “It has an illicit cousin, which I choose not to embrace.”

Reporter Matt Laslo, who posed the cannabis query to McConnell, reported the news to Schumer moments later at a separate press conference.

“Aw come on, Mitch,” Schumer replied. “I think this is something that is long overdue. I would hope to see it happen. I would hope the feds would take the heavy hand off and let each state decide to do what it wants to do.”

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

McConnell And Schumer Discuss Each Other’s Cannabis Bills

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