In case you missed it, Tuesday was primary day across California, where the first-round bid for governor became one of the most watched races in the country. As a refresher: under California law, the top two primary finishers go on to the general election, regardless of party. In a field of 27 candidates, Gavin Newsom (D) and John Cox (R) took the top two spots according to the New York Times. They will go on to the general election in November.
Where do these two candidates stand on cannabis? Based on what they’ve said publicly, we have some indication on what kind of cannabis policies Newsom and Cox might enact if elected governor of California. Please note that we are not here to debate politics or endorse either candidate, and are simply reporting their stances on cannabis – a small part of each candidate’s platform and beliefs. Here’s where each candidate stands on the growing California cannabis industry.
Gavin Newsom, Democrat
Newsom is the current Lieutenant Governor of California and previously served as the mayor of San Francisco for two terms. He’s been one of the leading politicians to advocate for the legalization of cannabis In 2014, Newsom was the only statewide politician to endorse California Proposition 47, a bill that decriminalized drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Then, he became the face of the pro-cannabis Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy. This report’s recommendations led to Proposition 64 and the full legalization of cannabis in 2018.
Where does he stand on improving the regulatory and operating environment for cannabis businesses? Newsom is on the record for wanting to tackle the cannabis black market and trying to move businesses into “the sunshine of a regulated environment.” Based on his track record and response to Sean Spicer and the administration, one could reasonably expect he would continue to evolve California’s cannabis regulations in a way that makes it possible for businesses to operate legally, responsibly, and securely.
John Cox, Republican
Cox has a business background, and previously ran for the United States Senate in Illinois. His net worth is in the billions due to his past work as a lawyer, specifically in tax and corporate law and in estate planning. He also worked as the chief financial officer of the snack foods company Jay Foods.
As a self-purported “Reagan Republican,” Cox has said he is against cannabis legalization for adult use. In a California gubernatorial debate on May 8, he seemed to suggest that cannabis consumers should be treated in hospitals for substance abuse. In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, he clarified, “I’m suggesting that people who are addicted to substances, substance abuse, should get treated, they should not be incarcerated.” Cox went on to add that cannabis users may be at risk for later using harder drugs, and should be put into a treatment facility. He supports medical cannabis.
Cox has been endorsed by Donald Trump, suggesting that if elected, he might follow the administration’s stance on cannabis.
In summary: it seems that each candidate presents two very different paths forward for the California cannabis industry. Questions about statewide cannabis regulations? Our experts can help with all your business or tax concerns. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.