Pro-Cannabis Candidates and Measures Carry Across California

This page will be updated as more results are reported.

Updated 11/11

Gavin Newsom, a cannabis supporter who pushed for the passage of Prop. 64 to legalize adult recreational use in California, will be the new governor of the state. Incumbent Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has vowed to protect the state’s legalization law against federal intrusion, also won his race. Both are carrying their contests with 60% of the vote. (Pictured: newly elected East Bay Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer, Sabrina Fendrick from Berkeley Patients Group, and Newsom.) Other states also elected cannabis-friendly governors.

Newcomer Eleni Kounalakis is winning the race for Lt. Governor by 55% of the vote. Kounalakis is a former ambassador to Hungary (in the Obama administration). When asked by Cal NORML whether or not she supports medical or recreational legalization, her campaign responded, "California voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and Eleni believes that now we need to make sure that the implementation of the law protects the public, especially our kids. Regulations must be put in place for a wide-range of aspects, from ensuring products are properly labeled, to setting up a banking system which keeps the industry from operating on an all-cash basis. Legalization poses other new challenges to public safety that must also be addressed, including a possible increase in people driving under the influence. Eleni believes we can develop effective regulatory practices to address these problems by imposing taxes, ensuring strict identification for purchases, and proposing and supporting bills that are specifically designed to protect our kids, and the public at large."

Winning the race for State Controller is Betty Yee, who is one of the first state officials to publicly advocate legally taxed and regulated cannabis. California’s new treasurer is Fiona Ma, who has taken serious interest in the cannabis industry, talking to farmers and touring businesses to figure out how they could best be integrated in California’s legal economy. She also supported a bill to establish a cannabis charter bank in California.

Senator Dianne Feinstein will keep her seat, fighting off a challenge by Sen. Kevin de Leon. Feinstein has long been an opponent of marijuana law reform, but inched closer to support this year with de Leon nipping at her heels. She is now a co-sponsor of the STATES Act, which would amend federal law to legalize actions that are legal under state marijuana laws.

Now that Democrats have won control of the House, San Francisco's Rep. Nancy Pelosi stands to become Speaker once more. Pelosi supports marijuana reform and will appoint favorable committee chairpersons willing to hear reform bills that have been bottled up by conservative Republicans.

Across the nation, a measure to legalize marijuana recreationally carried in Michigan, and medical marijuana laws were passed by voters in Utah and Missouri. Florida voters passed a measure to restore voting rights to marijuana felons, and voters in Ohio and Wisconsin approved municipal reform measures. The only loss came in North Dakota, where voters approved medical marijuana two years ago but voted against recreational legalization this year.

California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who has sponsored pro-cannabis legislation and had the support of the national NORML PAC, won back her seat. Congressional elections mostly upheld incumbents, many of them unfriendly to cannabis. An exception is race in the 25th Congressional district (Palmdale), where Democrat Katie Hill, whose campaign says she supports California voters' decision to legalize marijuana, has unseated unfriendly Republican incumbent Steve Knight by a narrow margin. In District 48, incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher, a longtime cannabis supporter, was ousted by Democratic challenger Harley Rouda, who is also solid on marijuana issues, having responded positively regarding all aspects of marijuana legalization on a Cal NORML candidate questionnaire.

In the race to win Republican Darrel Issa’s vacated seat (Oceanside), the winner is Democrat Mike Levin, who responded favorably on all key issues to Cal NORML's questionnaire. "Our nation’s marijuana laws are outdated, ineffective, and too costly," he tweeted. Levin defeated BOE member Diane Harkey, who opined that with cannabis legalization, "California could be on its way to establishing the next big tobacco industry and the first banana republic in the nation.” Embattled incumbent Duncan Hunter (San Diego), held on to his seat against challenger Ammar Campa Najjar. Both candidates are pro-cannabis.

STATE LEGISLATIVE RACES
In State Senate races, Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, who posted a good voting record in the legislature, has defeated Madera County Supervisor Rob Poythress, who voted to ban cannabis businesses in the county. Assemblyman Mike Eng (Los Angeles), who has a good voting record, beat another Democratic challenger to keep his seat.

Supportive state senators who handily won their races include Mike McGuire (North Coast), Bob Wieckowski (Fremont), Robert Hertzberg (Van Nuys), Holly Mitchell (LA) and Ben Hueso (San Diego). Non-supporters winning their races were Andreas Borgeas (Amador), Shannon Grove (Kern), Patricia Bates (Laguna Niguel) and Brian W. Jones (Alpine).

In the Assembly, former Obama aide Buffy Wicks defeated Richmond council member Jovanka Beckles, who had Bernie Sanders’ support. Both candidates were supportive of cannabis. In Palmdale, Assemblyman Tom Lackey, who has been the leading Republican sponsor of legislation to advance the legal licensing of cannabis, including a bill to lower Prop. 64 taxes in order to help the licensed industry compete against the black market, defeated former Assemblyman Steve Fox, who posted the worst voting record of any Democrat in the legislature, an atrocious 0% in 2013/14.

LOCAL RACES
Cannabis activist and dispensary owner Cody Bass won a seat on the South Lake Tahoe city council, and activist Hakeem Brown was the top vote-getter in the race to seat three Vallejo city councilmembers. Victor Aguilar, a member of the Alameda County Brownie Mary club, won a seat on the San Leandro city council. Favorable candidate Barbara Halliday was elected Hayward's mayor.

Nathan Fletcher, who was endorsed by San Diego activists, trounced former SD DA Bonnie Dumanis to win a county supervisor seat. Pro-cannabis candidate Jordan Brandman is leading in his race to join the Anaheim city council. All three pro-cannabis candidates in Calaveras county were elected: sheriff Rick DiBasilio, and supervisors Ben Stopper and Merita Calloway.

Read more about local elections.

LOCAL BALLOT MEASURES
Nearly all of the 94 local ballot measures that city and county voters are considering are passing by large margins. See complete list at the CCIA/Cannaregs site.

Proposition D in San Francisco, to tax cannabis businesses at rates far higher than comparable businesses, is carrying by 65% of the vote. It was opposed by the San Francisco Chronicle, Sen. Scott Wiener, and the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of SF.

Measure A is passing in the city of Fresno by 71% (it needs 2/3 of the vote to pass, as do all measures that specifically earmark funds). The measure is supported by Central Valley CA NORML. Both competing measures in Kern County were defeated, as was a Bakersfield tax measure. The city of Arvin in Kern county did pass their tax measure. Both San Joaquin county and Tracy defeated their measures, as did Plumas county.

In Contra Costa county, taxation Measure R is carrying with 72% of the vote. The measure is opposed by Contra Costa NORML because the summary of the measure was incorrect on ballots.

In Alameda county, measures in Emeryville and Union City, which were opposed by the East Bay Times for excessive taxation, are both carrying (by 85% and 72% of the vote, respectively). Measure V in the City of Oakland, which will allow marijuana business to deduct the cost of raw materials from their gross receipts and allow the city council to lower taxes, is carrying with 78% of the vote. The measure was endorsed by Cal NORML and CCIA (California Cannabis Industry Association).

A measure in the city of Los Angeles to establish a charter bank in the city, which was said to be aimed at allowing banking for cannabis businesses, is losing with 58% of the vote. Elsewhere in LA County, tax measures in Malibu, Maywood and Pomona are all carrying with nearly 70% of the vote.

In San Mateo County, tax measures in Daly City, Redwood City, San Carlos and South San Francisco are all carrying by wide margins (65-77%). Two tax measures in Half Moon bay are carrying with 51-61% of the vote, while three advisory measures are on their way to defeat. Measures in the cities of Santa Clara, Morgan Hill and Mountain View to tax cannabis businesses at around 10% of gross receipts are also winning by large margins (75-81%).

The cities of Benicia and Suisun City in Solano county are also winning with around 75% of the vote. Suisun’s measure was opposed by CCIA; it would impose taxes up to 15% on gross receipts and up to $25 per square foot of canopy space for cultivators.

Lake County’s Measure K, to impose an annual tax of $1.00 per square foot for nursery cultivation, 4% of gross receipts on a cannabis dispensary, micro-business, or delivery business, and 2.5% of gross receipts on a cannabis manufacturing, processing, transportation, distribution, or other type of cannabis business, is carrying with 69% of the vote.

Measure I in Willits, which is carrying with 75% of the vote, will set initial tax rates of $1-7 per square foot of canopy for cannabis cultivators, along with (1%) on cannabis labs, 4% on retailers, 2% on distributors, and 2.5% on processing. The measure was endorsed CCIA.

Simi Valley's tax measure passed, but both measures to allow permitting of cannabis businesses failed. One would have allowed cannabusinesses to operate only in the City’s Sexually Oriented Business Overlay Zone (putting the "Seamy" in Simi).

For more information and updates see the Cal NORML / Drug Policy Forum of California voter guide.