By Joe Tash
One of the most controversial measures on the Nov. 2 ballot is Prop. 19, which would legalize marijuana possession by adults in California.
Proponents of the measure claim it will end a form of prohibition that hasn’t worked, and open the door for state and local governments to bring in revenue from this potentially lucrative cash crop. Opponents fear the measure could lead to more impaired drivers on the road and make pot more accessible to children.
If the measure passes, California would become the first state to allow commercial cultivation and retail sales of marijuana. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government would continue to “vigorously enforce” federal drug laws, regardless of the election results.
Here’s what some local candidates for state Assembly and Congress had to say:
Paul King, Libertarian, 74th Assembly District:
“It’s a definite big yes. They really need to focus their attention on people who hurt each other. That’s what the police should be doing.”
Brian Bilbray, Republican, 50th Congressional District:
“I think Prop. 19 is an example of where people go too far. To say an employer can’t fire people for using a mind-altering substance. You wouldn’t let them drink (on the job). There’s a conflict with the federal government, the feds require testing bus drivers. Are we saying school bus drivers can’t be fired for using marijuana, or be tested, there has to be an accident first? I’m against it.”
Crystal Crawford, Democrat, 74th Assembly District:
“We’ve had prohibition. The history books tell us that didn’t work. We can have the same debate over the approach to marijuana. Voters will decide. I have not made up my mind, I see pros and cons. For me personally, it’ something I’m still thinking about, it’s a tough choice.”
Francine Busby, Democrat, 50th Congressional District:
“For all intents and purposes, marijuana already is available to people in California. (Possession) of an ounce or less is an infraction, like a traffic ticket. (Prop. 19) won’t solve our budget problems or reduce drug trafficking or the use of drugs or alcohol. It’s not going to solve or change much in California. The only thing it will do is create a conflict between California and the federal government. I think Californians are going to have to make a personal decision on this.”
Martin Garrick, Republican, 74th Assembly District:
“I don’t believe in legalizing marijuana. I’m voting no. It comes into direct conflict with federal laws. It needs to be resolved on a federal level. We don’t need to legalize pot in California. There are lots of things that could be revenue sources, it doesn’t justify legalization. It would encourage use.”
Miriam Clark, Peace and Freedom Party, 50th Congressional District:
“We’re absolutely for it. It takes the money and graft out of it. We tried prohibition and we got the Mafia. I’ve never heard of a marijuana overdose, (although) it’s habituating. You definitely take the money out of marijuana when you make it legal. I hope it passes, I really do.”
Lars Grossmith, Libertarian, 50th Congressional District:
“I’m very pro (Prop.) 19, it should be passed. The drug war is failing miserably. A definite yes. We need someone in Washington who believes in the 10th Amendment. The federal government can only do what’s specifically in the Constitution, the rest is left to the states.”