The much-anticipated release of the state Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy report reads like it was put together by a bunch of fussbudgets who'd just as soon never see legalized cannabis come to California. Yet nobody should be surprised that the tone and content of the report, released last week and spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, reads like a massive buzzkill.
The jump-out line is the idea that Californians shouldn't expect a "gold rush" in the cannabis industry if the state goes legal in 2016. Readers may recall that a "gold rush" mentality took hold in Santa Cruz following that city's rollout on medical cannabis, which only served to fuel a federal backlash against the state's 2006 medical cannabis law.
Now there is a real concern over a broader backlash as legalization moves forward in the nation's most populous state. There's no doubt a big debate over pot politics will play out in the political and media arena as we lurch toward Election Day 2016. Newsom is pro-legalization and politically ambitious, so it's wise for him to keep a lid on over-excitement about a generally accepted inevitability that is by no means an actual inevitability.
The "gold rush" language also conveys a reality that legalization will occur while there's still a federal prohibition in place, barring some bongs-up move from President Obama on his way out the door, so the report had to necessarily downplay any implication that a cannabis industry here would spill into states that haven't yet gone this route, the fools. California's No. 1 cash crop is already widely exported across the country, and legalization will make it that much easier to scoot some nugs over to Nevada, where they are desperately needed.
Alas, there is still plenty of time for a 2016 legalization referendum to fail, and spectacularly so. The bottom line is that, given the high political drama that's sure to unfold, Newsom isn't about to go out on a limb over legalization.
So this bud's for you, Gav. Thanks for being the adult in the room. It sure ain't me.
Tom Gogola is the news editor of the 'Bohemian.'
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