Pubdate: Wed, 22 Oct 2014
Source: SF Weekly (CA)
Copyright: 2014 Village Voice Media
Author: Chris Roberts


Who's on the Ballot: Heavily favored Democratic incumbent Kamala 
Harris, who laughs nervously in the face of marijuana legalization, 
and Ron Gold, the Republican who takes it very seriously.

Who Stands to Benefit: California's marijuana industry, forces 
seeking to privatize schools, people who like the death penalty.

Marijuana makes people do strange things. The cannabis cause has led 
dreadlocked Santa Cruz hippies to warmly embrace libertarians like 
retired U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (whose pledged destruction of the 
Environmental Protection Agency might have shocked the tree-huggers, 
had Paul ever been elected or had the weedheads ever bothered to read 
his entire platform).

Ron Gold knows this. Which is why the long-shot Republican candidate 
for California attorney general - the pro-death penalty, 
anti-teacher-tenure alternative to heavily favored Kamala Harris - 
can count on votes even from veterans of the gay rights movement 
(whose marriages Gold would have sought to keep illegal by defending 
Proposition 8, as Harris declined to do).

Harris is partially responsible for this. President Barack Obama's 
"best-looking attorney general" gave a nervous laugh as her answer to 
the question of California eventually legalizing marijuana, something 
many see as inevitable in California in 2016.

That laugh-track is now front and center in a campaign ad for Gold, 
who says that legalizing marijuana is a serious issue and would be 
one of his top priorities as the state's top law enforcement officer 
(and, if elected, the highest-ranking Republican in California).

Gold is embracing weed full-bore. In addition to making weed legal 
and ensuring the state's marijuana industry could reach its 
billion-dollar potential and turn a profit (something dispensaries 
can't do under current state law), Gold says he'd also petition Obama 
to release federal marijuana prisoners.

"Marijuana is the key singular issue in this campaign," Gold tells SF 
Weekly at a campaign stop hosted by Oakland marijuana trade school 
Oaksterdam University.

At least it is for him. On almost everything else Gold stands for, "I 
have to hold my nose," says retired Castro District high school math 
teacher David Goldman, who marched with Harvey Milk for gay rights in 
the 1970s. But Goldman is also active with the Oakland-based 
Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, the successor to the committee 
that put failed legalization effort Prop. 19 on the ballot in 2010. 
So he's voting for a Republican for the first time in his life.

This election cycle, there isn't much else for California's cannabis 
supporters to like. On his way to cruising to re-election, Gov. Jerry 
Brown said in a March interview that "potheads" might ruin 
California's competitive edge. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is California's 
most-prominent pro-pot politician, but his office is mostly 
ceremonial. So if voters want to voice dissatisfaction with progress 
on drug policy, their only option next month is going for Gold.

Sometimes one issue is enough.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom