The San Diego Union-Tribune hosted a candidate forum for the leading gubernatorial contenders in California. There was a question asking what one thing they’d most like to change about California’s marijuana legalization. The answers were non-existent, excellent, uninformed, idiotic, and frightening, in that order.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, running as a Democrat, earns an A+ for not showing up at this forum. He’s well ahead in the polls, so why appear at an event that shines a light on the also-rans? Besides, Newsom’s marijuana bona-fides are well-established by this point. He was talking about marijuana legalization before Republicans learned it’s popular and profitable.
Former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, running as a Democrat, earns an A for her answer. “I think we need to create a public bank in California for the deposit of money so that is safely kept,” Eastin responded, referring to the situation now where federal prohibitions on marijuana and banking are forcing many state-legal marijuana firms to do all their business in cash. Eastin gets an A because she directly answered the question about the “one thing” she would change and her choice of the banking issue shows she’s got more than just a superficial awareness of the issues surrounding marijuana. Speaking of superficial awareness…
Former Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa, running as a Democrat, earns a C for his answer. “I also think we need a standard to determine if someone is driving under the influence,” Villaraigosa stated, calling for a breathalyzer-like standard for marijuana similar to what exists for alcohol. This answer is pandering to unrealized fears about marijuana and driving that opponents of marijuana legalization use to drive down support. It shows an ignorance of the science about marijuana, in that there is no scientifically-reliable body fluid testing standard for marijuana because of the way it lingers in the body and the varying tolerance consumers develop. It shows an obliviousness to the evidence from over 20 years of California medical marijuana and 5 years of legal Colorado and Washington marijuana showing no stoned mayhem on the freeways due to accessible pot. Villaraigosa gets a passable C because he’ll end up being Newsom’s lieutenant governor and getting some cannabis education.
California Assemblyman Travis Allen, running as a Republican, earns a D for his prediction that “recreational marijuana will be a disaster for California.” Allen acknowledged that he would repeal legalization if he could and then tested the rules of logic by stating why. “Where [legalization] was tried in Colorado, they now have the second-highest teen usage rate of marijuana in the nation,” Allen said, failing to note that Colorado dropped from 1st to 2nd in the most recent survey, or that Colorado has always been one of the states with the greatest amount of teen marijuana usage. Furthermore, as other states without marijuana legalization rise and fall in the standings, that can make a state the leader even when its teen usage rates are in decline. Think of it this way: if one NASCAR finished fourth last weekend, but then it finished first this weekend, does that mean that NASCAR got faster over the past week? Maybe… or maybe the other cars got slower, or maybe the track the week before was longer, or maybe it was bad weather last week… Anyway, Allen is only spared an F because he can’t repeal California’s legalization
Businessman John Cox, running as a Republican, earns an F for his long-winded rambling about marijuana legalization being “all about revenue” because Democrats ran up deficits. When he finally got around to the one thing he’d change about marijuana legalization, Cox called for mandatory rehabs. “I’d like to go to the Portugal system, where they actually put people who use marijuana in hospitals and cure them of their substance abuse,” Cox said, mischaracterizing the Portuguese system that has since 2001 decriminalized personal possession of all drugs. Drug users not involved in crime or dealing are offered the choice of counseling and rehab, but aren’t actually required to be hospitalized. Cox gets the F because he’s never, ever going to call for mandatory hospitalizations of people who drink beer to cure them of their substance abuse.