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MJ: You’re probably not making any friends by saying all this. We started passing resolutions condemning the disparity on cocaine sentencing, and [the DPA’s] Ethan Nadelman had me on panels.
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MJ: Well, your old college roommate probably likes you better than Cruz’s old roommate likes him. ” MJ: But by then you already had a rep for sticking your neck out—the whole gay marriage thing. After that, I had to be accountable to the position! MJ: But what about small-time pot dealers, who are often people of color? Folks that are still incarcerated with [certain pot-related] convictions will have the ability to petition courts to reduce their sentences or have records expunged. We will have the most robust [cannabis] research, arguably, of any country in the world—it will be coming out of our UC system in the next few years. MJ: Critics claim that legalization will convey to kids that smoking pot is okay. You don’t want to normalize something that isn’t healthy for kids.
A lot of folks began asking tough questions about what legalization looks like: How are you going to deal with Big Tobacco? Are you worried about people driving under the influence? We want to give opportunities to people who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. It’s not; it just isn’t, we dismiss that at our peril.
How are you going to deal with the concerns around edibles and packaging? All of these legitimate questions were coming up in these forums, and discussions on the street, and, frankly, in my home with my wife. And there’s money: 20 percent of the revenues are for economic development targeting low-income communities—like small grants and loans to help with expungement. We have to be honest about the brain development for children.
And that’s when I felt this responsibility to convene a workgroup. GN: The M-word is absolutely unacceptable up there. But there’s been a lot of opposition up there on 19. We put in language that prioritizes small growers over larger ones for the first five years. Alcohol is not good for kids either, and tobacco is more devastating in many ways.We put together a very thoughtful and comprehensive report to guide what was at the time a dozen-plus initiatives that were being discussed, proposed, and promoted. We actually specifically exclude those larger cultivators so we can encourage local farmers. But we don’t incarcerate people for smoking a cigarette. Ultimately, we landed on the one that we introduced today. MJ: Several states have already legalized marijuana. GN: California was the first to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996. 19’s bankroller, Richard Lee, was speaking about why pot should be legal, and a fistfight nearly broke out between pot farmers and legalization advocates. I was mayor when we did the first regulations on the medical marijuana industry. What we learned from Colorado and Washington is that you can’t be too prescriptive because there are things no one can anticipate. But you will have to pay a 15 percent excise tax that goes to children’s programs, law enforcement, and other functions. But my hunch is that 10 years from now, you will have one system. 19 was coming up for a vote, I went to the Hemp Fest at the Cow Palace in Daly City. GN: I wasn’t prepared for that when we went up to Trinity and Humboldt counties. Lia must put down her artist’s cap and return to her role as amateur investigator in hopes of discovering the truth behind Cross’ disappearance before anyone gets killed.