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California Primaries Advance Key Cannabis Candidates and Tax Measures

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Cannabis supporter Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will advance to November in the gubernatorial race, while counties and cities across the state largely approved cannabis tax measures.

California voters took to the polls Tuesday, June 5, to vote in the state’s primary elections for governor and key congressional seats, as well as several local cannabis tax measures.

The Race for Governor

Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican John Cox won the top-two spots in the gubernatorial primary and will be on the ballot during November’s general election.

Newsom has largely supported the cannabis industry and said at the California Democratic Party convention in April 2013 that the war on drugs was “an abject failure.”

“Gavin Newsom’s demonstrated his thinking is in line with most of California and most of the country on marijuana policy,” Mason Tvert, spokesperson and media relations director for Marijuana Policy Project, told Cannabis Business Times.

Cox, however, has been under fire after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported April 23 that the candidate said marijuana users should be hospitalized in a system similar to that in Portugal, where people who are found with small amounts of drugs receive mandatory medical treatment but are not charged with a crime. In a May 4 reportThe San Diego Union-Tribune said Cox denied the earlier statement and that he said he was talking about heroin and opioid addicts, not marijuana users. Cox said he is “certainly for medical marijuana” at a March candidates forum  hosted by the Union-Tribune.

“California voters are amongst the most evolved voters in the country on this issue, and they’re not going to look very highly upon a candidate who has such antiquated views,” Tvert said. “We may see him roll back some of his comments, but it’s clear that he does not share the same opinions on this matter as most voters in California.”

“Cox seems confused on drug policy; although he suggested that California should treat drugs like Portugal does, he seemed unaware that Portugal has actually legalized all drugs, and is treating them as a health issue,” added Ellen Komp, deputy director for California NORML. “He did scale back his comments, saying under questioning, ‘I’m not necessarily demanding that [hospitalization] be done with regard to cannabis.’”

“It seems unthinkable that Cox should be elected in a state where Trump lost by four million votes,” Komp continued. “I doubt he can turn the tide away from marijuana legalization in California, where 57 percent of voters approved Prop. 64 to legalize adult use in November 2016.”

Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, also a democrat, were the two favorites heading in to the gubernatorial primary. Villaraigosa is also a cannabis industry supporter, according to a Canna Law Blog post by Habib Bentaleb, a lawyer at Canna Law Group. Villaraigosa barely collected more than half of the votes Cox received.

Congressional Candidates

As for congressional races, Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a cannabis industry supporter who sponsored the Rohrabacher-Blumenaur amendment, will be on the November ballot after winning the primary election, according to a CBS News report.

Rohrabacher was challenged by Republican candidate Scott Baugh, who has not been supportive of the key cannabis industry protection, according to Canna Law Blog. Democratic hopefuls Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda are the most likely to be challenging Rohrabacher for his seat, as they came within 73 votes of one another and finished in third and second, respectively.

Local Elections

Many municipalities also voted on city and county measures. Here’s a roundup of the results:

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Melissa Schiller on Cannabis Business Times

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Published: June 6, 2018

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