Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom is not taking any chances — if recreational cannabis comes to California, as many advocates are hoping it will in 2016, he’s pulling out all the stops to ensure the state is poised and ready to hit the ground running.
Newsom formed the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy, a panel of 24 advisors comprised of public health experts and policymakers, including former Senior Policy Advisor to the White House Keith Humphreys and the Executive Director of the ACLU, Abdi Soltani. The commission was formed with the goal of executing the best possible approach for when or if recreational cannabis is legalized in California. This included holding many public forums and taking feedback, current policies, and specialized expertise into account.
The commission created a 93-page document titled “Pathways Report: Policy Options for Regulating Marijuana in California.” This report details a comprehensive series of 58 recommendations and goals for implementing general cannabis legalization, including two avenues for medical marijuana detailing whether the state should decide to combine the two industries or keep them separate.
Additionally, the report outlines meticulous options for multiple eventualities that the state will face. How to tax, testing and oversight, quality control, and enforcement are all covered, but the variety of options, rather than a single regulatory plan, reflects the difficulty lawmakers face when tasked with creating, implementing, and regulating a new system.
While Newsom himself is a supporter of legalization, the report does not recommend or encourage legalization, instead merely acknowledging that it is a real and likely possibility. Newsom will be running for governor in 2018 and took a pro-legalization stance after becoming concerned about disparities in the criminal justice system for cannabis violations.
“It’s got to be done thoughtfully, and it’s got to be done responsibly.” Newsom said. “Period. Exclamation point.”
According to the most recent poll of likely California voters by the Public Policy Institute of California, a record 54% of residents favor legalizing cannabis. These numbers have increased5% overall since the last poll in 2010, and increased by 10% among Republicans and Californians age 55 and over.
With those polling numbers in mind, the Blue Commission’s report is even more relevant as the 2016 general election date continues to inch closer.