Pretty Much Everybody Running For Office Is Against Prop 19

ballot_pot.jpgProposition 19, the ballot measure that would legalize adult recreational use of cannabis and tax the hash out of it, is making plenty headlines these days: in yet another poll released today, the legalization initiative enjoyed a 10 point lead, with 50 percent of voters polled in support to 40 against.

That’s nice, but not as nice as an endorsement from one of the many Democratic candidates for statewide office, such as “Bay Area liberals” Mayor Gavin Newsom or District Attorney Kamala Harris, the nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general, respectively. And that’s not coming anytime soon, and in fact will never come: despite professing even staunch support for medical cannabis, both candidates oppose the legalization ballot measure, they said Thursday.

“This is a hard one for me… but I’m just not there yet,” Newsom told The Appeal. “I’ll never cede my strong support [for medical cannabis,” but concerns over exactly how full-on legalization would be implemented — from taxation to dispensation to “the message it sends” — soured Prop 19 in Newsom’s eyes. “I’m frustrated with myself on this one, to be truthful,” Newsom added. “But I’m just not there yet. I hope to be there someday, though.”

In an e-mailed statement, Harris campaign spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh laid out the DA’s opposition to Prop 19 thusly:

Attorney Kamala Harris said she supports regulating medicinal marijuana dispensaries but not allowing cannabis sale for recreational use. Harris said recreational sales would just create new headaches for a beleaguered system that needs to better regulate medical marijuana dispensaries and to assist nonviolent drug offenders. Harris said she supports medicinal marijuana – “I have personally known people who have benefited from its use” – but that she thinks California needs consistent standards about ownership and operation of dispensaries and that legislation to bring state standards would be the most helpful.

A spokeswoman from Harris’s current station, the SF District Attorney’s Office, said that as DA, Harris does support medical use of cannabis “as the law allows,” but again opposes legalization for law enforcement concerns.

With those statements, Harris and Newsom join fellow San Franciscans Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and SF native son Attorney General Jerry Brown in their opposition to the legalization bill, making Prop 19 0 for 5 among SF politicians in or aspiring to the big show.

None of this came as much surprise to Dale Sky Clare, the executive chancellor at ballot measure sponsor Oaksterdam University and spokeswoman for Prop 19.

“With cannabis, the people have always been ahead of the politicians,” she noted, figuring that concerns over voter reaction in conservative swaths of the state means that folks like Newsom and Harris need to tread a fine line with cannabis issues in order to be electable.

Though, Clare noted, Prop 19 will surely lead young voters out to the polls, and those young voters will lend support to the likes of Newsom, Harris and Jerry Brown, all of whom oppose Prop 19.

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