How Cannabis Fared in the June 2018 Primary Election in California

This page will be updated as news develops.

June 6, 2018 - As expected, Democrat Gavin Newsom was the top vote-getter in yesterday's primary election for California Governor. A longtime advocate of drug harm reduction, Newsom convened a Blue Ribbon Task Force on legalization that served as a blueprint for Prop 64, which he backed strongly.

It looks like his challenger in November will be Republican businessman John Cox, who has Trump's backing. Cox made headlines by suggesting that recreational marijuana users belonged in the hospital. “I’d like to go to the Portugal system where they actually put people who use marijuana in hospitals and cure them of their substance abuse. I’m not interested in jailing recreational marijuana users, and I’m certainly for medical marijuana.” He has since corrected himself, saying, "I'm not necessarily demanding that it [hospitalization] be done with regard to cannabis."

It appears that US Senator Dianne Feinstein is heading towards a top-two race in the fall against fellow Democrat and State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who is credited with inching Feinstein towards more progressive stances on marijuana and the death penalty during the campaign. Feinstein is leading with 44% of the vote, with de León coming in with 11%.

During her long career in public office, Feinstein has been a staunch opponent of all things marijuana, vociferously opposing Prop. 215 and 64, and using her power on the Senate Judiciary Committee to block rescheduling and voting against an amendment to prohibit Attorney General Jeff Sessions from interfering in California’s medical marijuana law, and another to protect banks from being prosecuted for serving the cannabis industry.

One week before the start of voting, Sen. Feinstein announced that she is shifting her position and would drop her opposition to legal cannabis, saying, "Federal law enforcement agents should not arrest Californians who are adhering to California law." De León announced that he would back Sen. Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act just before Feinstein's announcement.

Cannabis supporters Xavier Becerra (Attorney General), Betty Yee (Controller) and Fiona Ma (Treasurer) are well ahead in their races against Republican challengers, who they will face again the fall.

LOCAL RACES

Former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher appears headed for a run-off with former DA Bonnie Dumanis in the race for San Diego County Supervisor. Fletcher, a former Republican, had a spotty voting record in the legislature but won the support of the local cannabusiness community. Dumanis is an arch-enemy of cannabis who did all she could to thwart it as DA.

Orange County Republican Dana Rohrabacher, who has championed cannabis in Congress, was the top vote-getter in his race and will face a top-two runoff in the fall.

LOCAL BALLOT MEASURES

Cannabis business licensing and/or tax measures are prevailing on several local ballots:

- Yolo County's Measure K to impose a cannabis business tax is leading by a large margin (80%-20%).

- Santa Barbara County's Measure T to add a new section imposing the cannabis tax to the County Code is carrying with 76 percent of the vote. As a general tax, it required only 50% of the vote.

- San Luis Obispo County's Measure B-18, to impose a tax beginning at 4 percent and increasing annually to a maximum of 10 percent, is also leading (77%-23%).

- The city of San Rafael's Measure G to impose a tax on the gross receipts of cannabis businesses at a maximum rate of 8 percent is carrying with 82.5% of the vote. The Marin County measure required a 2/3 vote.

- Pasadena's Measure CC to allow for cannabis businesses is winning at 60%-40%; its Measure DD to tax cannabusinesses is carrying at 75%-25%.

- Nevada City's Measure F to tax cannabis businesses appears to have passed by a wide margin, with 85.71 percent of 556 votes counted.

- Mammoth Lakes voters passed a measure that imposes different levels of taxes on various cannabis businesses.

- Measure Y to authorize Merced County to tax commercial marijuana businesses at $25 per square foot of cultivation space or 10 percent of gross receipts, whichever is greater, is also winning (77%-23%).

- San Benito County's Measure C, to tax all facets of cannabis businesses, is on its way to a win (58%-42%).

- Mono County voters passed Measure D, which enacts a marijuana business tax that ranges from $0.50 to $2, depending on square footage of canopy. The measure will also place a tax on marijuana business gross receipts ranging from one percent to eight percent, depending on the type of business.

And finally, the aptly named city of Weed in Siskiyou County passed Measure K, authorizing the county to impose a $10-per-square-foot tax on outdoor grows, an $18-per-square-foot tax on grow areas using natural and artificial light, a $26-per-square-foot tax on indoor grows or 10 percent of yearly gross receipts.

A few local results look unfavorable to cannabis so far:

- The town of Yucca Valley in San Bernardino county is defeating Measure L, to allow state-licensed commercial marijuana operations by 68% - 32%.

- A measure to authorize Sierra County to prohibit commercial marijuana cultivation, processing, and dispensaries is leading by a margin of 56%-44%.

- The city of Jurupa Valley in Riverside county has competing measures allowing for cannabis businesses (Measure A) or continuing a ban on them (Measure B). So far, Measure B is carrying with 57% of the vote, nearly identical to the percentage of no votes on Measure A.

Measure T, to repeal the city of Santa Cruz's 2006 law requiring enforcement of marijuana offenses at the lowest level of priority, is passing at 72%-28%. The measure is thought not to be necessary now that Prop. 64 has legalized marijuana in California.

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