Primary Election Guide to Cannabis Candidates: June 2022

This page will be updated as we learn more about candidates and races. 

The California Statewide Primary Election is on Tuesday, June 7, and the deadline to register to vote is Monday, May 23. If you miss the May 23 deadline, you can also register and vote in person through Election Day, June 7, using same-day registration.

Here are Cal NORML’s recommendations for pro-cannabis candidates in key or contentious races for the June 7 Primary Election in California. Send any input about these or other races for this guide here.

Read about more races at NORML’s Smoke the Vote Guide

Rob Bonta for Attorney General

Bonta has long been a strong friend and supporter of and reasonable voice for cannabis law reform. In 2015, he was one of the Assemblymembers who drafted a set of bills that licensed and regulated medical cannabis, and he repeatedly worked to lower taxes on cannabis in the legislature.  In 2018, Asm. Bonta authored Cal NORML’s employment rights for medical marijuana users bill, and introduced AB 1793, which passed into law, creating an automatic pathway for Californians to have criminal convictions for cannabis-related offenses removed or reduced from their records. As AG, Bonta has worked with county officials to expedite the expungement process and announced his office would conduct a six-month review of the interagency CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) program in October 2021.

In the nonpartisan primary, Bonta is running against Republicans Eric Early, who is for gun rights and against critical race theory, and Nathan Hochman, an Assistant US Attorney who prosecuted “narcotics traffickers and violent gang members.” Candidate Daniel Kapelovitz of the Green Party also ran in the Newsom recall; Sacramento DA Anne Marie Schubert, who is running as an Independent, is a former Republican who has been cozy with the police unions and opposed legalization. Schubert supports repealing Prop 47, which defelonized drug possession offenses, arguing that a repeal will provide offenders the treatment they need.


California is in the process of redistricting, and these candidates are running in newly drawn districts, which will be finalized once they are elected and inaugurated in 2023.

Kermit Jones for Congressional District 3 (Placer County and portions of Sacramento, El Dorado and Yuba counties, including Rocklin, Roseville and Folsom, Lake Tahoe and much of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, including Plumas, Sierra, Nevada, Alpine, Mono and Inyo counties)

Two Republicans and two Democrats are vying for this seat. Republican contenders are anti-marijuana Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones and the Trump-endorsed Kevin Kiley, who voted against all pro-cannabis measures in the Assembly in 2018 (except SB 829, to protect cannabis compassion programs for indigent patients), while opposing expansion of cannabis events, veterinary use, and medical access for schoolchildren.

Moderate Democratic candidate Dr. Kermit Jones has the Sac Bee endorsement, which says that the former Navy flight surgeon and Iraq veteran “brimming with thoughtful proposals on health care, wildfire resilience and more.” Dr. Jones is also a lawyer, and was a White House fellow during the Obama administration.  His Health Care Plan would “decriminalize certain drug offenses and encourage rehabilitation programs as an alternative to incarceration.” The other Democrat on the ballot is businessman David Peterson, who was an unsuccessful candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat in 2016 and 2018.

Ami Bera for Congressional District 6 (Rancho Cordova, Citrus Heights, parts of Sacramento)

Beri is a medical doctor who worked with AIDS patients and supports medical marijuana. He opposed Prop. 64 to legalize recreational use in California in 2016, but has voted twice in favor of the MORE Act to legalize recreational cannabis at the federal level, as well as co-sponsoring the SAFE Banking Act, and voting to allow VA doctors to recommend medical cannabis for veterans, and preventing the Justice Department from prosecuting medical cannabis patients and providers.

Jimmy Fremgen for Congress, 7th District (Sacramento) 

Pro-pot and pro-equity politico Fremgen is running against Doris Matsui, who has been a good voter on cannabis issues (though not exactly pro-active).

Kevin Mullin for Congressional District 15 (South San Francisco, Redwood City)

Mullin has an “A” Rating on NORML’s “Smoke the Vote” guide and a great voting record on cannabis in the state legislature. His opponents are David Canepa, a San Mateo County supervisor, and Emily Beach from Burlingame City Council for this seat being vacated by Rep. Jackie Speier.

Phil Arballo for Congress, 17th District (Fresno)

Arballo is sympathetic to marijuana and has out-fundraised his opponent Adam Gray, who has one of the weakest voting records for a Democratic Assemblymember, including voting against the Cal NORML–sponsored Employment Rights bill AB 2188 in 2022. In 2019 he sponsored an anti-vape bill that would have impacted cannabis.

Mike Levin for Congressional District 49 (Dana Point) 

Levin, who has an excellent voting record, faces a tough re-election campaign.

Anyone but Mike Garcia for Congressional District 27 (Santa Clarita)

Garcia has lead a campaign against illegal grows in his district, throwing medical and personal growers under his big bus. He also faces a tough race.


Dave Jones for State Senate District 8 (Richmond/Fairfield/Solano County)

Jones has been a strong supporter of cannabis reform since his days in the Assembly. As State Insurance Commissioner, he was one of the few public officials to endorse Prop 64.

Alex Lee for Assembly District 24 (Milpitas, Fremont, Newark and the Berryessa area in North San Jose)

Lee is a young Gen Z progressive. He is enthusiastically  in favor of legal marijuana, social equity, employment rights for marijuana users, and more.

Esmeralda Soria for Assembly District 27 (Frenso)

As a Fresno City Councilmember, Soria pushed for opening dispensaries in Fresno.

Tom Lackey for re-election to Assembly District 34 (Apple Valley, California City, Barstow, Big Bear Lake, Twentynine Palms and parts of Hesperia, Highland, Lancaster, Palmdale, Victorville)

Lackey, a Republican and former CHP officer, co-sponsored legislation to license medical cannabis businesses in 2015. While supportive of medical access, in 2016 he opposed Prop. 64 to legalize recreational marijuana. Nonetheless, he has posted a good voting record in recent years. He sponsored bills to foster cannabis research, and worked with reform advocates to turn his DUI bill into a CHP task force, on which Cal NORML sat.

In this newly drawn district, Lackey will face Thurston Smith, who this year introduced a pair of bills to criminally or civilly penalize cannabis gardens as small as seven plants, a move seen as grandstanding in a region where Republican congressmen are making similar bluster. However, his office seems to have heard Cal NORML’s objections and his bill AB 2728 has been softened somewhat, removing the seven-plant mention.

Anyone But Steve Fox for Assembly District 39 (Palmdale)

Fox, who posted the worst voting record of any Democrat when he was in the legislature, is running for election in a new district.

Read about more federal and state races at NORML’s Smoke the Vote Guide


Carl Tenenbaum for Sonoma County Sheriff

Tenenbaum is a member of LEAP (formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, now the Law Enforcement Action Partnership) and has been endorsed by many progressive groups.

Caity Maple for Sacramento City Council

Maple worked to pass the cannabis Home Delivery Protection Bill SB 1302 (Lara – 2018). She now works as legislative director for the Perfect Union cannabis company.

Yesenia Sanchez for Alameda County Sheriff

In this anyone-but-Ahern race, Sanchez has the endorsement of the Brownie Mary Club of Alameda County, who tells us Sanchez understands and supports protecting cannabis businesses, saying they should have equal protection as other businesses, and is concerned about the nonaction of Oakland police during recent robberies. She has a focus on mental health, so that prison is not a continuous cycle as it is now. Sanchez has the endorsement of the East Bay Times, which opposes Ahern’s reelection. Ahern has been particularly obstructionist to cannabis businesses in Alameda county.

Terry Wiley for Alameda County DA

“Terry Wiley is a mensch,” writes Cal NORML Legal Director Bill Panzer.  “I’ve had nothing but good dealings with him for many years. Very reasonable and compassionate.”

Rebecca Kaplan for Alameda District 3 Supervisor

Kaplan has been a leading advocate of cannabis reform measures during her tenure as an Oakland City Councilwoman and Vice Mayor, most recently sponsoring a resolution to support Cal NORML’s employment rights for cannabis users bill. Here election would create a cannabis-friendly majority on the Board of Supervisors.

Diana Becton for Contra Costa D.A.

Becton is a progressive who has been proactive on issuing expungements for past marijuana convictions in Contra Costa county. She calls criminal justice reform a leading priority and was endorsed by George Soros’ progressive Real Justice PAC in her last election.

Eunisses Hernandez for LA City Council District 1

While at the Drug Policy Alliance, Hermandez worked on state ballot measures like Prop 47, which reclassified nonviolent crimes as misdemeanors, and Prop 64, which legalized marijuana use for adults. She was a mover and shaker in making expungements happen for past marijuana crimes. She is endorsed by the LA Times and former Sen. Holly Mitchell.

Steven Vargas for Orange County District 4 Supervisor

As a Brea city councilman, Vargas opposed a ban on medical marijuana cultivation in 2016, but opposed deliveries, citing a potential for theft.

Lori Saldaña for San Diego City Council, District 2

Saldaña was a strong advocate for marijuana law reform during her time in the state Assembly. She posted a solid pro-reform voting record, and in 2007 she sponsored a bill that would have made it state policy not to cooperate with DEA raids. In 2008, she co-authored Mark Leno’s Industrial Hemp bill and his Employment Rights for Medical Marijuana Users bill, which passed in the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Dave Myers for San Diego Sheriff

Myers has been openly critical of the county’s over-policing of the cannabis community. “I will enforce a sensible approach to marijuana that permits safe access over black-market options,” he said when he ran in 2018. “The Sheriff currently has only one full-time detective on opioid enforcement, but ten dedicated to marijuana enforcement. Have we ever seen an overdose death on marijuana?”

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