California Lt. Governor Comes Out in Favor of Marijuana Legalization

“When it rains, it pours,” as the old saying goes.  The momentum marijuana law reform advocates enjoyed in 2012 has gotten another boost as we head into a new year.

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom recently spoke out on the issue of marijuana law reform, saying, “It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users. These are incredibly upstanding citizens, leaders in our community and exceptional people. Increasingly, people are willing to share how they use it and not be ashamed of it.”

XPF_20121018_Celebration of Visionaries_Gavin Newsom_8230After the failure of Proposition 19 in California in 2010 and the failure to get marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2012, activists are eyeing the off-year election of 2014 for another shot at recreational legalization in the state. And the more help they get, the better.

“The fact that savvy and ambitious politicians like Gavin Newsom are embracing marijuana legalization shows that this is now a mainstream, majority-support issue, whereas once many officials who agreed with us in private would run away from us in public,” said Tom Angell, founder and chairman of Marijuana Majority. “If you look at the polling, you get the clear sense that opposing marijuana legalization is going to increasingly be a liability for Democrats in primary elections.”

In most cases, politicians are the only remaining roadblock to cannabis legalization. Voters are on board in many states (according to polls), and nationwide, legalization routinely polls above 50%.

Many people point out that medical marijuana is easy to get in California, and that’s a good thing. But there is more progress to be made. CA has lost its leadership position when it comes to marijuana law reform to Colorado and Washington. Recreational legalization and all the benefits that come with it (including a lot more tax revenue) is the next step.

And as far as the next state to legalize goes, California is the most ready. They’ve known medical marijuana for 16 years and have an extensive industry built up around cannabis, despite the best efforts of the federal government. The support of officials like Gavin Newsom will help tremendously, especially with those who are “on the fence” about recreational legalization.

The key in California is cooperation among the many competing groups that want to get the issue on the ballot. Five groups slugged it out for signatures in 2012, and none reached the goal. And without the increased voter turnout of a Presidential election, things will be tougher in 2014 than they would have been in 2012, if legalization does make the ballot in California.

The momentum continues, as more people come out in favor of marijuana legalization every day. But only hard work from advocates will continue us on the road toward the end of marijuana prohibition.

– Joe Klare

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