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Republicans cold on measure to legalize pot in California

A Coachella Valley marijuana grower tends his plants in February. (Andrew Seng / Sacramento Bee)
A Coachella Valley marijuana grower tends his plants in February. (Andrew Seng / Sacramento Bee)

A proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California isn’t getting much love from state Republicans.

An influential California Republican Party committee on Saturday voted to oppose a proposed statewide ballot measure, known as the Adult Use Act , which would allow those 21 and older to possess and use up to an ounce of pot.

A proponent of the marijuana measure had urged the committee to remain neutral, but members instead voted to oppose. The full state GOP membership, meeting in Burlingame for their spring convention, will vote on whether to support that measure and others expected to be on the November ballot on Sunday.

Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Assn., told the committee that the initiative would tightly regulate the use, sale and production of the state’s billion-dollar marijuana industry, taking it off the illegal black market and out of the shadows.

“What we’re trying to do is control a product that’s here now,” Bradley said. “This is about fixing a broken policy.”

Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen of Gerber adamantly opposed the measure, telling the committee that marijuana was an “entry level” drug that leads to addiction.

“We must not turn this plague loose on our children and the people of California,” Nielsen told Bradley.

The senator also took a shot at one of the main proponents of the Adult Use Act, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom ahas announced a 2018 bid for governor.

“Let’s not give Gavin Newsom another plank,” Nielsen said.

The measure would impose a 15% tax on retail sales of cannabis and require the state to regulate the cultivation, distribution and sale of recreational marijuana. Supporters include former Facebook President Sean Parker, one of the main financial backers of the intiative.

The measure is expected to be on the ballot in the November general election, though proponents are still gathering the signatures from registered voters necessary to qualify.


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