Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jun 2016
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Joe Garofoli


Passage in California Key in Move to Legalize

Leading cannabis activists, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, warned 
Tuesday that if California voters don't support legalizing marijuana 
for adult recreational use in November it could set momentum on the 
issue back at least a decade.

"It's not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination," Newsom told 
a meeting of legalization supporters. "Any of you think this is done 
in California, you couldn't be more wrong."

With the Adult Use of Marijuana Act expected to qualify for the 
California ballot in the next week or so, and the possibility of 
cannabis measures going before voters in eight other states this 
fall, "we've never had so much at stake in one election night," Aaron 
Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry 
Association told those attending the opening of the organization's 
convention Tuesday in Oakland.

"If we don't win California and at least half of the other states in 
play right now, the public narrative around our industry will 
dramatically change for the worse and for quite some time, setting us 
back a decade or more," Smith said.

Smith and others sought to tamp down any sense that the legalization 
measures were a shoo-in to pass.

If voters in all nine states support cannabis measures, Smith said, 
that means that 1 in 4 Americans will live in a state where 
recreational adult use of marijuana is legal and 3 of 4 will live in 
a state where medicinal use is legal.

"Congress," Smith said, "simply cannot ignore numbers at this scale."

Newsom, introduced as the highest ranking statewide official to 
address a major cannabis conference, sounded a similar cautionary 
note during his 30-minute keynote speech to some of the 3,000 people 
attending the threeday conference.

Newsom said that while polling has been strong in recent weeks, 
including a Public Policy Institute of California survey last month 
that found 60 percent support for legalization, there are rumors 
every day of a deep-pocketed donor popping up for the opposition.

And despite the fact that Newsom's friend and Silicon Valley venture 
capitalist Sean Parker has committed millions toward the ballot 
measure, Newsom said, "Don't think you've got one person funding this.

"Sean's got a lot of money, there's no doubt about that, but he's got 
a budget, too. He's not going to fund the whole thing," he said. 
"There's a lot of mythology around that. We need your help."

Newsom reminded the audience that even though all of California's 
elected statewide officials are Democrats, he is the only one that 
supports legalization. It is still a controversial issue in the state.

"Heck, I was deeply involved in something not that long ago called 
gay marriage and remember, they passed Proposition 8 (outlawing same 
sex-marriage) in California not that long ago," in 2008, Newsom said.

However, some top officials are softening their opposition. On the 
day after the June 7 California primary, state Attorney General 
Kamala Harris, who is running for U.S. Senate, said, "I am not 
opposed to legalizing marijuana, but there are some details we need 
to figure out, including how we are going to test impairment when one 
is under the influence of marijuana."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom