Pubdate: Sat, 04 Jun 2016
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Orange County Register
Author: Susan Shelley
Note: Susan Shelley is an author, a former television associate 
producer and was twice a Republican candidate for the state Assembly.


Believe it or not, in 2011, Cheech and Chong predicted the 2016 
presidential race.

"Somewhere, the extreme ends of the political spectrum meet," Cheech 
Marin told a reporter in Davenport, Iowa, where the comedians were performing.

Marin was talking about marijuana legalization and the unlikely 
coalition that supported it. In addition to the duo's longtime fans, 
"the Tea Party wants marijuana legal, too," he said.

This November, California voters may very well have the opportunity 
to vote for that. Supporters of a ballot initiative, the Control, 
Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, have submitted more than 
600,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's Office. The measure 
needs only 365,880 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act would make it legal for Californians 
at least age 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, six plants 
and 8 grams of concentrated cannabis. It would also require 
commercial licensing and testing, regulate labeling and advertising 
and add a 15 percent sales tax on top of other taxes.

Proponents have already raised millions of dollars for the fall campaign.

Meanwhile, there are more than 2 million newly registered voters this 
year, more than double the number for the same period in both 2008 
and 2012. About 1.5 million of those new voters are registered as 
Democrats or independents, and many are younger than 35.

Unsurprisingly, 80 percent of California voters ages 18-34 support 
marijuana legalization, according to a survey conducted in February 
by Probolsky Research, while 46 percent of voters age 65 and up would vote yes.

Equally unsurprising is this data from the latest Hoover Institution 
Golden State Poll: Of California Democratic primary voters age 30 and 
younger, 61 percent support Bernie Sanders, who has come out in favor 
of marijuana legalization, while 30 percent back Hillary Clinton, who has not.

But wait, there's more.

The Libertarian party has just nominated former New Mexico governor 
Gary Johnson for president. His most recent job in the private sector 
was as CEO of a company that manufactures marijuana edibles.

Johnson supports legalization and cheerfully confessed to reporters 
that he's "one of the 100 million Americans" who regularly use 
marijuana. He also admitted he's "in the tens of thousands of those 
that are guilty" of buying the drug legally in Colorado and 
transporting it illegally to his home.

Historians will remember 2016 as the year all the candidates ran for 
president just for the power to pardon themselves.

The outcome of the election in California may depend on the answers 
to two mysteries: How many under-30 voters will turn out in November 
to vote for marijuana legalization? And, more importantly, cui 
bono  who benefits?

In 2012, the statewide popular vote for president broke down this 
way: 7.8 million votes for Barack Obama, 4.8 million votes for Mitt 
Romney and 143,000 votes for Gary Johnson.

Let's all do the math together. If a million economically stressed 
former Democratic voters jump to Donald Trump, and a million 
weed-legalizing former Sanders supporters move on from the Bern to 
Johnson, it's possible that, for the first time since 1988, 
California's 55 electoral votes could be knocked out of the Democratic column.

And that would almost certainly make Donald Trump the next president 
of the United States.

When he redecorates the Oval Office, maybe he'll order one of those 
custom-made rugs with meaningful quotations woven into the design.

Picture it  cream-colored, with gold letters that form a glittering 
border and spell out the inspiring words: "The arc of the comedy 
universe is long, but it bends toward drug jokes."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom