The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), now officially Proposition 64 on the 2016 California ballot, has a great chance of legalizing cannabis use for adults in the Golden State this November, with prominent backers such as Napster founder Sean Parker and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. Reform organizations such as the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, NORML and the California NAACP also support the measure. The California Medical Association and California Democratic Party have also announced their support.
However, Prop 64 isn’t a slam dunk as longtime Senator Dianne Feinstein opposes the measure, as does the California’s prison-industrial complex. The prohibitionist group, Smarter Approaches to Marijuana, has ponied up money against the measure as they have already raised $2 million to fight legalization measures across the country this year. Joining the prohibitionists and law enforcement groups, are many some marijuana entrepreneurs and activists. While it may seem strange for some to see medical marijuana backers and legalization activists opposing Prop 64, those of us that have been through legalization battles in previous states have seen this story before.
Debby Goldsberry, announcing her support this morning on Facebook, is a huge development in the political battle to pass Prop 64. Debby, who I am proud to call a friend and colleague, is a true pioneer in the cannabis community, tracing her activism roots back to the godfather of the movement, Jack Herer. Debby has mixed activism and entrepreneurship like few have been able to, co-founding the Berkeley Patients Group and now leading the Magnolia Wellness Collective. I have long admired Debby and have thoroughly enjoyed our opportunities working together, such as helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference, as she is one of the best cannabis law reform activists of all-time. (She is remarkably humble and will probably request that I take out such praise, but it is the truth.)
Debby, the 2011 High Times Freedom Fighter of the Year, understands the importance of staying true to our goal of keeping people out of prison for cannabis, not just in California, but around the globe, and this seemed to ultimately sway her opinion as she thoughtfully weighed the pros and cons of Proposition 64. I reached out to Debby following her Facebook post wondering about her thought process and she responded, ”It’s time to legalize marijuana in California. If we stay vigilant and work hard, every person who wants to join the legal industry will have that right. If not, people will continue to go to jail.”
As we’ve seen firsthand in Oregon and the other legalized states, transitioning from a medical system to legalization for all adults, will have some consequences as politicians and policy makers implement the law, some good and some bad. It will be very important that the cannabis community, both those for and against Prop 64, unite to protect patients’ rights, mom-and-pop businesses and small farmers if the legalization measure passes at the ballot box.
If California legalizes cannabis this November, it will be a major turning point in the global fight to end cannabis prohibition. A racist and classist war is being waged against nonviolent people, and adding one of the largest economies in the world, will help bring an end to this senseless war. While California voters will have to stay true to themselves, I hope that they take into account the massive influence that California has on the United States, and even the entire world. Thank you Debby, and to everyone fighting the good fight in California, and around the globe.