Newsom hails ‘milestone’ against war on drugs

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom today celebrated the passage of state ballot measures he backed legalizing recreational marijuana use and imposing new gun controls.

Speaking at a press conference in downtown San Francisco, Newsom said Proposition 64, the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” would be a “game changer” in drug law reform efforts due to the state’s size and status as a producer of cannabis. The measure passed Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote.

“It will go down as a milestone, one of the most significant acts to begin the end of the war on drugs,” Newsom predicted.

While it will be legal to possess and transport up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants as soon as the election results are certified, it will still not be legal to buy marijuana without a medical marijuana card until the state sets up a structure for licensing and taxation.

The process could take years, and is subject to revision by a vote of the state legislature if needed, Newsom said.

More immediately, however, the legislation allows people with marijuana possession convictions to petition to get their records expunged and for those in jail to seek reduced sentences.

“We’ve been on an incarceration binge in this country because of determinate sentencing and some of our drug policies,” Newsom said. “[Prop.

64] sends a powerful message that we don’t believe prohibition has been effective.” While the election of Donald Trump as president on Tuesday has caused some to question whether a change in federal policy might threaten California’s budding efforts at legalization, Newsom said he was not concerned.

“When he was campaigning, Donald Trump consistently maintained support for state’s rights as it relates to recreational cannabis,” Newsom said. “I suspect he’ll maintain that support.” Even if it becomes an issue, however, Newsom argued that California’s measure is the most restrictive marijuana legalization law on the books, with provisions for safety and the protection of children.

Newsom also backed Proposition 63, a gun control measure that passed with 62 percent of the vote. The measure outlaws the possession of large-capacity military-style ammunition magazines of 11 rounds or more, and makes it harder to buy ammunition by requiring licensing of vendors and point-of-sale background checks for purchases.

In addition, it sets up a relinquishment process for gun owners convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor and requires gun owners to report the thefts of guns.

Newsom said California’s gun control laws have successfully reduced the state’s gun murder rate, and argued that it was at the local level and through direct democracy that the powerful National Rifle Association would meet its match.

“Their rhetoric is getting very stale,” Newsom said of the gun lobbying group. “I think they’re a paper tiger, and I think their days are numbered as a dominant force in this country.”