Find cannabis-friendly candidates and measures at all levels of government: local, state and federal.
Visit NORML’s Smoke the Vote Guide and enter in your zip code or address to find Congressional candidates, as well as candidates for the State Senate and Assembly in your district. Some key races are described below.
Watch a walkthrough of Cal NORML and NORML’s Smoke the Vote guides, from our Sept. 2 statewide Zoom meeting. Also see State of Cannabis‘s Tiny Town Halls for September and October with candidates talking about cannabis.
GREEN = Good position/record; RED = Bad position/record;
BLACK = Neutral/unknown
Cannabis activist and supporter Diana Esmeralda Holte is running for Adelanto city council.
In the Benicia Mayor’s race, candidate Steve Young is a cannabis supporter.
Berkeley: Mayor Jesse Arreguin has long been a strong progressive supporter of Berkeley’s cannabis community.
In Council District #2, incumbent Cheryl Davila is highly recommended by local cannabis activists.
In Council District #3, incumbent Ben Bartlett boasts of having created the city’s cannabis sanctuary policy, lowering the tax rate, and authoring the city’s cannabis equity law.
Running for Eureka City Council is Liza Welch, former board member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Mills College, where she earned a masters degree in public policy.
Imperial Beach City Council District 2: Councilmember Mark West, who has investments in the industry, has been a strong supporter of cannabusiness in the city, and co-authored the city’s ordinance to allow dispensaries in the city. In City Council District 1, candidate Matthew Leyba-Gonzalez has reached out to local cannabis advocates.
In Irvine, pro-cannabis attorney Lauren Johnston-Norris is running for city council.
Los Angeleshas an outstanding candidate for District Attorney in George Gascón the former D.A. of San Francisco. Gascón has been a leading advocate for ending the war on drugs, and is one of four California DAs to join a new progressive organization to reform the criminal justice system. In 2019, he moved to retroactively apply Prop. 64 to every marijuana case since 1975 so as to clear the records of persons adversely impacted by criminalization, the first DA in the country to do so. He also co-authored Prop. 47, which reduced many non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and supports the elimination of cash bail. His opponent, incumbentJackie Lacey, has a ho-hum record, but claims to be a reformer and moved to dismiss marijuana convictions, but only after Gascón ran against her and state law required her to do so. She boasts the support of police groups, the LA Deputy Sheriffs, and Sen. Feinstein. Lacey nearly won 50% in the primary, but faces a tight race this November.
For Oakland city council: Rebecca Kaplan (At Large District) has been a leader on cannabis issues for many years. She co-authored the city’s pioneering 2004 Measure Z ordinance for legalizing adult use of cannabis . Dan Kalb (District 1) has wobbled lately on cannabis; his opponent Tri Ngo may be slightly better, based on his rhetoric. Lynette McElhaney (District 3) has gone out of her way to hear from cannabis supporters; Noel Gallo (District 5) has reliably voted for cannabis and also sponsored the city’s pioneering ordinance decriminalizing psychedelic plants. Marshon Tatmon and Marci Hodge (District 7) seem to have good attitudes about cannabis; they are running against Treva Reid, the daughter of retiring Larry Reid.
San Diego: Todd Gloria is endorsed by local advocates as a cannabis-friendly candidate for Mayor.
San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Dist. 1: Democrat Nora Vargas has reached out to local cannabis advocates; she has a background in health care and has spoken out for social equity in access to cannabis. Her opponent, Democratic state senator Ben Hueso, has had a good voting record and sponsored a bill to let hospices and nursing homes administer medical cannabis (it was reluctantly vetoed by Gov. Newsom).
In the San Francisco Supervisor races, the Brownie Mary Club has endorsed Marjan Philour (District 1), Danny Sauter (District 3), Valerie Brown and Dean Preston (District 5), Myrna Melgar (District 7), Hillary Ronen (District 9), and John Avalos (District 11). Also, for the SF Community College Board: Tom Temprano and Shanell Williams.
Santa Cruz County 1st District Supervisor John Leopold (friendsofjohnleopold.com) has been a vociferous supporter of cannabis for years, going back to the early days of Prop 215 when the Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) was fighting the federal government.
Vallejo: City councilman Hakeem Brown was running as a progressive cannabis-friendly candidate for mayor; he also owns a licensed dispensary and cultivation business. However, Cal NORML has withdrawn our support for his campaign after reports that Brown has been convicted of felony domestic violence, among charges of chronic domestic violence “bordering on torture.”
West Hollywood councilmember John Duran is a longtime proponent of medical marijuana and helped to remove cannabis from a nonsmoking ordinance in August; voting in favor of banning cannabis smoking in residences was Councilmember John Heilman, who is up for re-election. Challengers for the at-large seats include Sepi Shyne, who supports cannabis users rights, and John Erickson, who supported eliminating cannabis from the city’s residential smoking ban.
Yountville: City council candidate Jeffrey Durham supports the city’s Measure T, calling a brick-and-mortar cannabis business the only option for veterans, tenants and other residents.
California will see 38 ballot measures in 36 cities or counties across the state on the November ballot. Most would allow local officials to impose taxes on cannabis businesses, ranging from 1.25% to 10%, while allowing flexibility by using the language “up to” in the rates. For cultivation, most places seek to place a square footage tax ranging from $0.5 – $25. Trinity County, by contrast, seeks to tax by weight of flower and leaves, while Calaveras voters will decide whether to move from a weight-based tax to a square footage–based one.
Many of the jurisdictions currently do not allow cannabis businesses, or all types of them, and a tax measure is often the first step towards licensing cannabis businesses, since locals can only tax by voter mandate. Cal NORML supports only limited local taxation.
If approved by Calaveras County voters, Measure G’s cultivation tax would be based on square foot of canopy, instead of the current tax that’s based on dry weight of marijuana. It would also raise the tax on other cannabis businesses from 7% to 8%.
Los Angeles County
Measure Q will allow taxation of up to 15% on cannabis businesses, or up to $20 per square foot for cultivation.
Voters will decide on a Measure C, a general cannabis business tax of up to 10% on gross receipts. The city currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
This L.A. suburb will vote on whether to allow four “commercial cannabis operation centers.” The measure appears to leave the door open to allowing licensees to choose the types of companies – retail, cultivation, manufacturing – they would operate.
Another L.A. suburb, voters will weigh in on six MJ company-development agreements struck between city officials and businesses.
Voters here will decide whether to approve Measure CC, with a 5% gross receipts general cannabis business tax. The city currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
Voters will decide between Measure PM and Measure PO. Measure PM is a citizen-backed initiative that would enact 600-foot setbacks (the same as liquor setbacks) for cannabis businesses; Measure PO was placed on the ballot by city council and has 1000-foot setbacks.
- $10 per square foot of canopy for cultivators.
- 6% of gross receipts for retailers.
- 4% of gross receipts for all other business types.
The city currently prohibits marijuana businesses.
• King City
City residents will vote on Measure P, establishing a tax of up to 5% on marijuana sales, and 2% on distribution.
Measure Z would place restrictions on marijuana business proximity to parks and recreation centers, maintaining a 5% gross receipts tax on marijuana businesses and the cap of three adult retailers and three medical dispensaries.
Located in California’s wine country, Yountville is asking voters to decide Ballot Measure T, which would authorize:
- A single retail operation in the city.
- A local cannabis tax of 3% of gross receipts.
The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
• Grass Valley
Cannabis businesses aren’t permitted yet in this town, but the city council has put a measure on the ballot to tax them. Gardens would be taxed at between $.50 and $4 / sq.ft. annually; dispensaries at 4% of gross profits, and manufacturers, distributors and testing labs at 2% of gross profits. Proponents, led by Mayor Swarthout, aim to raise $$$ for the city; opponents think the taxes are too high.
• Costa Mesa
This Orange County city could become the second to allow commercial cannabis shops if voters approve Measure Q allowing the City Council to establish a retail marijuana tax of 4% to 7%. The city already allows manufacturing, testing and distribution.
• La Habra
Voters will decide on Measure W, establishing a tax of up to 2.5% on cannabis distribution and testing businesses, and up to 6% on all other cannabis businesses. The city already permits distributors and testing labs.
• Laguna Woods
Another Orange County city, this ballot measure is advisory only: If voters back it, there’s no certainty the town will move forward with cannabis business licensing. In particular, the ballot question asks if voters want the city to authorize marijuana retailers. The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
Measure L will decide whether to allow distributors to set up shop and impose a distribution tax of up to 10% on company gross receipts. The town already permits retailers, cultivators, manufacturing and testing.
San Diego County
Voters in this beach town north of San Diego will decide whether to allow commercial marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and up to four retail shops. The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
• Lemon Grove
In this San Diego suburb, voters will decide on Measure J, with a general cannabis business tax of up to 8% of gross receipts. The city currently allows only medical marijuana dispensaries and no other types of businesses, so a yes vote could open the door to recreational businesses.
Oceanside voters will decide on Measure M, a ballot measure that establishes a range of 2 percent to 6 percent for medical or recreational retailers, manufacturers and distributors, and up to 3.5 percent for cultivators. The exact percentage within that range would be set by the City Council after the measure is approved. In May, Oceanside approved its first medical, delivery-only cannabis dispensary, MedLeaf, to open in an industrial park near the municipal airport.
• Solana Beach
Voters in this town, another San Diego suburb, will decide on Measure S, to allow at least two storefront marijuana retailers along with indoor cultivation and delivery. Recreational sales would be taxed at 1.25%. The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses.
San Joaquin County
This Central Valley county, which includes Stockton, will vote on Measure X, a general cannabis business tax of 3.5% to 8% of gross receipts for all business types as well as an annual $2-per-square-foot fee for growers.
The maximum tax rates proposed by Measure W are: $12.00 annually per square foot for plant canopy for cultivators; 6% of gross receipts for retailers; 2.5% of gross receipts for testing laboratories; 3% of gross receipts for distribution businesses; and 4% of gross receipts for all other businesses.
San Mateo County
• San Bruno
A suburb south of San Francisco, voters will decide whether to support Measure S, a general cannabis business tax of up to 10% of gross receipts. The city currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
• Mount Shasta
Measure L, sponsored by the Keep Cannabis Away from Kids Coalition, seeks to curtail industrial cannabis in the town. The measure would cap the number of licensees, subject license holder to unannounced inspections, and make license renewals more difficult.
Measure B states, “Shall Ordinance 453-2019 regulating the commercial growth of Cannabis within the City, requiring a license for such business operations, limiting who may obtain such license, and imposing regulations of the conduct of business operations to protect the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the City be adopted.” Voters passed Measure K in June 2018, also addressing cultivation, but seems to be missing a huge opportunity to license weed retailers, having failed to pass Measure L to permit dispensaries in 2014.
Measure D, an advisory measure, seeks the voters’ voice in whether the current municipal code limiting the number of retail cannabis businesses should be re-open for discussion while perhaps softening the “buffers” of having a dispensary anywhere places where children may congregate. A “Yes” vote doesn’t automatically increase the number of allowable retail cannabis businesses and a “No” vote indicates voters don’t want any more than the one retail shop already approved.
In this town northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area, voters will weigh in on Measure C. It would establish a general cannabis business tax of up to $10 per square foot of canopy for cultivators, 6% of gross receipts for retailers and 4% of gross receipts for all other license types.
Voters will consider Measure V, a general cannabis business tax of:
- $10 per square foot of canopy for indoor growers.
- $7 per square foot for mixed-light growers.
- $4 for cultivators that use no artificial lighting.
- $2 per square foot for nurseries.
Residents also will vote on a 6%-gross-receipts tax for retailers, 3% for distributors and 2% for testing labs. The city currently prohibits all marijuana businesses.
• Sonoma (city)
Voters in this city will vote on two non-competing initiatives.
- 4% of gross receipts for retailers, manufacturers and indoor growers.
- 3% for distributors.
- 2.5% for outdoor cultivators.
- 2% for testing labs
• Measure Y is a broader measure backed by advocates that would open up personal cannabis cultivation and business licensing in the city.
Voters in one of the three famed counties that comprise California’s Emerald Triangle will decide on a general marijuana cultivation tax, Measure G.:
- For cannabis flower, the tax would be $15.44 per pound.
- For marijuana leaves, it would be $4.59 per pound.
- For fresh cannabis plant material, the tax would be $2.16 per pound.
The measure would also establish an annual 2.5% gross receipts tax for retailers, though the county does not yet permit retailers.
A Central Valley town, voters will decide whether to support a general cannabis business tax of up to $25 per square foot of canopy for cultivators or 10% of gross receipts via Measure R.
The county is asking its voters to weigh Measure O, which would allow processing and distribution as an accessory use to cultivation in unincorporated parts of the county. The county currently prohibits all marijuana businesses. Supported by local activists.
Voters will vote on Measure G, a general cannabis business tax that will begin at 3% of gross receipts for all businesses. However, city officials could increase that levy to as much as 10%. Opposed by local activists.
• Ventura (city)
Voters in this town will choose whether to adopt Measure I, a general cannabis business tax of up to $10 per square foot of canopy for cultivators, 8% gross receipts for retailers and 4% for all other business types. The city currently prohibits all cannabis businesses. Opposed by local activists.
Voters will consider Measure N, a general marijuana and hemp business tax of up to:
- $10 per square foot of canopy for cultivators.
- 6% of gross receipts for retailers.
- 4% gross receipts for all other business types.
YES Proposition 17: Constitutional amendment allowing felony parolees to vote
NO Proposition 20: Rolls back sentencing and parole reforms enacted via Propositions 47 and 57
Proposition 25: Referendum on California’s prohibition on cash bail – A Yes vote retains the prohibition on cash bail passed by the legislature. A No vote restores cash bail. Though the cash bail bill was well meaning, some groups like the CA NAACP oppose it, arguing that the judge or algorithm used in the place of cash bail would be discriminatory. Proponents point out that the legislature will be unable to act to fix the law should it be overturned by Prop. 25.
GREEN = Good position/record; RED = Bad position/record; BLACK = Neutral/unknown
8th Congressional District
In the huge 8th Congressional district stretching from Mono Lake to Twentynine Palms that is being vacated by Paul Cook, Republican Assemblyman Jay Obernolte will face Democrat Chris Bubser an engineer-turned-biotech advisor familiar with medical benefits of medical cannabis from work with disability community. She believes cannabis is a “perfect opportunity” for economic development in the community. Obernolte has a “D” rating from NORML. In 2018, he voted against AB 1793, to expunge past marijuana convictions and also voted against bills to allow for cannabis compassion programs, veterinarians to recommend cannabis, and schoolchildren to use medical marijuana. He did vote yes on a bill (AB2020) to expand places where cannabis events can be held and AJR 27 to ask the DOJ to allow state licensing for cannabis businesses.
21st Congressional District (Central Valley)
In District 21, where Democrat TJ Cox narrowly unseated Republican David Valadao in 2016, the two candidates are in a rematch in November. Cox is friendly to marijuana; Valadao voted against every marijuana reform measure and opposes recreational legalization, although he co-sponsored an industrial hemp bill in the CA legislature.
25th Congressional District (Santa Clarita area, LA County)
Democrat Christy Smith lost a special election to Republican Mike Garcia for the seat vacated by Katie Hill in May, but the two will have a re-match in November. Smith has an excellent voting record in the California legislature; Garcia, a former Naval officer who works for the military contractor Raytheon, favors mandatory minimums.
42nd Congressional District (Southwest Riverside county)
Marijuana opponent Ken Calvert (R) will face a challenge from progressive Democrat Liam O’Mara in November. O’Mara’s website says, “The war on drugs was a bad idea from the start, and drug enforcement needs to end – drug addiction is a medical issue, not a criminal one, and I am for decriminalization and amnesty for non-violent users.” He recently appeared at a cannabis-themed town hall.
50th Congressional District (San Diego)
In Duncan Hunter’s former district, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar has the support of San Diego NORML. His opponent, Republican Darrell Issa, has a long and dismal voting record against marijuana, medical and otherwise.
53rd Congressional District (San Diego)
This double-Democratic race for Susan Davis’s seat pits San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez against Sarah Jacobs, who worked in policy positions at the U.S. State Department, UNICEF, and the United Nations in the Obama administration, and was policy advisor to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
Gomez’s website says, “In Congress, Georgette will fight for treatment programs for non-violent drug offenders, federal legalization of marijuana, eliminate mandatory minimums, end cash bail and increase funding for the FBI’s Civil Rights Division.” Jacobs says, “It’s time for the federal government to de-criminalize cannabis. And we need to make sure that tax money derived from legal cannabis sales go back to rebuilding communities that have been devastated by the drug wars, and that we pardon all those who are in the criminal justice system due to non-violent marijuana-related offenses that would now be considered legal.”
Senate District 13 (Silicon Valley)
In this seat being vacated by Jerry Hill, Democrat Josh Becker is neck-and-neck with Republican Alexander Glew. Becker had positive, thoughtful responses to Cal NORML’s candidate survey, and favors legalization.
Senate District 15 (San Jose)
Both Democrats in this race have reached out to the cannabis community. Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese has the support of the UFCW; he is one of the minority of Supervisors to have supported licensing cannabusiness in the county. His opponent is Ann Ravel, former deputy AG in Obama’s Justice Department with experience litigating for civil rights, who boasts her support for small business. Both candidates have close acquaintances who use cannabis medically and know victims of the marijuana laws.
Senate District 17 (Santa Cruz)
Incumbent Democrat John Laird is supported by local cannabis advocates. He faces Republican Vicki Nohrden.
KEY STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICTS
Assembly District 13 (San Joaquin)
San Joaquin County Supervisor Kathy Miller against former Supervisor Carlos Villapuda. Miller voted in favor of putting a measure on the ballot to license an unlimited number of cannabis businesses in 2018. Villapuda is endorsed by the California Coalition of Law Enforcement Associations and is regarded as a criminal justice hawk.
Assembly District 25 (Milpitas)
Currently represented by Democratic Representative Kansen Chu, who is terming out. Republican Bob Brunton will face Democrat Alex Lee for the seat, a Democratic stronghold and majority Asian district. Lee, who’s been a legislative policy advisor for the state Senate and Assembly, is affiliated with California Young Democrats and is strongly in favor of marijuana legalization.
Assembly District 34 (Kern)
Incumbent Vince Fong, a Republican, has a poor voting record on cannabis. His challenger is Julie Solis, a member of the pro-cannabis Brownie Mary Democratic Club and the Kern County Democratic Central Committee.
Assembly District 36 (Palmdale)
Incumbent Tom Lackey, is an ex-CHP officer and leading Republican co-sponsor of legislation to legally regulate cannabis. He has co-sponsored legislation to lower cannabis taxes and has a B+ voting record from NORML. His opponent, Democrat Steve Fox, had a dismal 0% voting record on cannabis issues in 2013-4 legislature; his NORML grade is an F.
Assembly District 37 (Santa Barbara)
The seat is currently held by Democrat Monique Limon, who is terming out and running for state Senate. Democrat Steve Bennett is a Ventura County Supervisor who voted in favor of allowing medical marijuana businesses in 2017. He will face Republican Charles Cole.
Assembly District 53 (LA – Huntington Park)
Democratic challenger Godfrey Santos Plata has reached out to the cannabis community; a public teacher, consumer and social justice advocate, he believes the present licensing system is too expensive and complicated. He is running against incumbent Democrat Miguel Santiago, who has a good voting record in the Assembly.
Assembly District 57 (Whittier)
This race in a solidly Democratic district pits labor-favored Lisa Calderon against Republican Jessica Martinez.
Calderon is running to succeed her stepson Ian Calderon, who followed his father and two uncles into the Legislature. Interest groups dumped more than $2.7 million into the primary race, making it the most expensive independent expenditure battleground in the state.
Assembly District 67 (Lake Elsinore)
Democrat Jerry Carlos faces Republican Kelly Seyarto for this vacant seat that was represented by Republican Melissa Melendez, who has just won a state Senate seat (and had a bad voting record). Carlos is former policeman who says most cops on the beat understand arresting people for pot is futile; he favors marijuana legalization. Seyarto is a 35-year firefighter and mayor of Murietta. In August 2019, Murietta voted to allow for hemp businesses and cannabis testing labs to operate in the city, but continued its ban on any other cannabis businesses.
Assembly District 68 (Orange – Irvine – Lake Forest)
Democrat Melissa Fox is personally knowledgeable about medical cannabis and is the only member of Irvine City Council to have voted for licensing cannabusiness in the city. Her opponent, Steven Choi, is a traditional Republican with interests in cutting taxes, regulation and crime.
Assembly District 73 (Dana Point)
Republican and Laguna Niguel Mayor Laurie Davies beat current Assemblyman William Brough (R) in this district in the March primary. Laguna Niguel does not permit any type of cannabis business. Her opponent is Scott Rhinehart, who has participated in political advocacy, such as working to defeat The Briggs Initiative, Proposition 8 (the anti-gay ‘California Marriage Protection Act’) and fought to increase funding for HIV/AIDS prevention. “I am also a passionate supporter of full and equal rights for all Americans, particularly worker’s and women’s rights.”
Assembly District 78 (San Diego – Imperial Beach – Solana Beach) Of the two Democrats vying for this empty seat, Sarah Davis, a health care provider and midwife, has expressed her support to the cannabis community.