Although Sean Parker’s controversial marijuana ballot measure is considered by some to be the great green hope in terms of bringing prohibition to an end in California later this year, many advocates for the initiative, including Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, are concerned that the cavalier attitude among the public could sabotage legalization efforts for many years to come.
During the recent Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in Oakland, Newsom told those in attendance that he is becoming increasing unnerved by the political forces throughout the state that are still too scared to come out in support of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA). He worries that all of this reluctance threatens to destroy the chances the initiative has at being well received by voters in the November election.
“If [AUMA] is defeated, it will set back this movement in California for years and years. And I would argue set back the movement for regulating … marijuana … across this country for year and years,” Newsom said. “Do not take California’s initiative for granted.”
Reports indicate that AUMA is expected to be officially certified for the ballot within the next week, putting the campaign in overdrive to ensure the voters understand exactly what it means to support the initiative. In the meantime, Newsom says there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to educate concerned citizens, like his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom, who are “scared as hell” about the impact legal weed will have on the children.
Newsom told the Sacramento Bee that although his wife has not been in favor of legalization, informative articles—such as the one released earlier this week reporting that teen marijuana use is down in Colorado—are helping her understand why a taxed and regulated system is better for the community than allowing the continuation of a black market.
“She was interestingly persuaded today when I sent her the article about teen use actually going down in Colorado over the last few years. She never would have believed that,” Newsom said. “And that was one point of emphasis I’ve been making to her: It’s still illegal for kids to use cannabis. We are not changing that. The vast majority of the money from this initiative targets our kids…billions and billions of dollars over the next decade will go back into youth prevention programs, education programs, alternative programs and opportunities.”
Organizers fighting for the passage of AUMA face a tough road ahead.
They will have to contend with anti-pot groups spending millions of dollars to convince California residents to vote against legalization. The initiative even faces opposition from fellow drug reformers who simply do not agree with AUMA’s concept of legalization, a model that still punishes those caught in possession of more than an ounce of weed with a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.
“I just do not understand why the folks who wrote this felt the need to literally include every bad law from across the nation into one super bad law for the biggest cannabis mecca on the planet. California deserves better,” wrote cannabis journalist Mickey Martin in his recent piece entitled “I Can’t Believe I Am Probably Going to Vote Against Weed Legalization.”
It is for this very reason that Newsom says that no one should just assume that AUMA is going to pass, pointing out that the campaign still needs a lot of support “financial and otherwise” to combat all of the opposition coming across the hill.
“It’s not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination,” Newsom said. “Any of you think this is done in California, you couldn’t be more wrong.”