AG candidates team up to oppose marijuana

You won’t see San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for state Attorney General, and Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Republican nominee for state Attorney General, holding hands and singing “Kum-Ba-Yah” on much this year, but they did it today to oppose Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure on November’s ballot.

Harris and Cooley, along with California State Firefighters’ Association President Kevin Nida, co-authored the rebuttal arguments against the measure, submitted today for inclusion in the state voters’ guide. Here’s what they had to say:

“As California public safety leaders, we agree that Proposition 19 is flawed public policy and would compromise the safety of our roadways, workplaces, and communities. Before voting on this proposition, please take a few minutes to read it.

“Proponents claim, ‘Proposition 19 maintains strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence.’ That statement is false. In fact, Proposition 19 gives drivers the ‘right’ to use marijuana right up to the point when they climb behind the wheel, but unlike as with drunk driving, Proposition 19 fails to provide the Highway Patrol with any tests or objective standards for determining what constitutes ‘driving under the influence.’ That’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) strongly opposes Proposition 19.

Steve Cooley“Proponents claim Proposition 19 is ‘preserving the right of employers to maintain a drug-free workplace.’ This is also false. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, the facts are that Proposition 19 creates special rights for employees to possess marijuana on the job, and that means no company in California can meet federal drug-free workplace standards, or qualify for federal contracts. The California State Firefighters’ Association warns this one drafting mistake alone could cost thousands of Californians to lose their jobs.

“Again, contrary to what proponents say, the statewide organizations representing police, sheriffs and drug court judges are all urging you to vote ‘No’ on Proposition 19. Passage of Proposition 19 seriously compromises the safety of our communities, roadways, and workplaces.”

The Tax Cannabis 2010 committee supporting Prop. 19 yesterday announced the measure had won the endorsement of the 200,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers, Western States Council. The endorsement came during a meeting in San Diego of the California Labor Federation, which chose to remain neutral on the measure.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, came out against the measure earlier this week setting the stage for a showdown before the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board at its meeting this weekend in San Jose; progressives are trying to rally support for the measure ahead of Sunday’s vote.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Kamala Harris is full of hot air. Think about this: field sobriety tests used by police were created to text actual driving-related motor skill impairment. The test was invented as a way to tell if someone is sober enough to drive, regardless of what substance they are under the influence of. That’s what it’s for. So if someone happens to be a little high but does not say so (5th amendment protection), but they can still pass the field sobriety test with ease, then they are good to drive, period. Studies have proven that drivers under the influence of marijuana are acutely aware of their intoxication, causing them to prefer postponing driving until later, or to compensate for their impairment by driving slower and more carefully than totally straight people. Marijuana is NOT alcohol–Please stop discriminating against us! If you have never smoked weed, then you have no idea what it feels like to be high, and should not be telling me what I am able and unable to do. Plus, try to find any record of a fatal car accident caused solely by THC impairment–it’s never ever happened.

  • John W

    I heard the other day about a guy in the Bay Area who received two felony convictions and jail time for one ounce of weed and 50 vicodin pills (no prescription). We need to decriminalize drug use and stop filling up our prisons with non-violent drug users. That will remove the profit for drug cartels and pushers. But I won’t be voting for Prop. 19. First, it conflicts with federal law. Second, unlike laws enacted through the legislature, any flaws get cast in stone (and I suspect this prop has numerous flaws and unintended consequences. Third, nobody is ever going to convince me that somebody high on weed is safe behind the wheel. That’s a load of you know what.

  • hilltopper

    Vehicle Code 23152(a) states that “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.”

    See that? “or drug” “or under the combined influence” of “alcohol and drug.” It will remain illegal to drive under the influence. Prop 19 would not change that.

    Prohibition against marijuana has simply caused illegal production, degrading our environment, has bred disrespect for the law, and has caused kids to deal with sellers of other drugs. And it has been as effective as the 1920’s prohibition of alcohol.

    We are wasting millions of dollars fighting this “crime,” money that could be spent on more serious matters, crime labs, etc. And we are giving up millions of dollars in tax revenues the state needs.

    BTW, I agree with John W that no one high on pot should be driving. Neither should those under the influence of alcohol or prescription medicines. But those are both legal.

  • John W

    Re: #6 Hilltopper

    I totally agree about every one of the negative consequences of prohibiton mentioned — including the environmental aspect, which I had overlooked. Still would prefer to see this dealt with legislatively and in concert with federal policy, both of which I concede are nearly impossible to accomplish. If Prop. 19 had some type of safety valve provision that would permit the legislature to modify it to the extent it becomes problematic, I’d feel better about it. I feel that way about most ballot intiatives, by the way.

  • Parke Bostrom

    Re: #4 John W.

    John W. asks for “some type of safety valve that would permit the legislature to modify it”. Read section 5 of the Act.


    Partial quote: “this Act may be amended … by statute validly passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor, but only to further the purposes of the Act.”

  • MarkD

    You’d have to be drunk on alcohol to believe marijuana is worse.
    These (& other) AG’s have to pay attention to their careers.

    As AGs they should know about the corruption of officials that prohibition causes (ie: Al Capone style organized crime).

    Whether corporate or criminal, judges, politicians, customs agents & even AGs have a great political/financial inscentive.
    Prison contractors who are paid per each inmate are one such group that benefits hugely by anti-drug laws.
    Law enforcement & justice system jobs are at stake as well.

    The Mex cartels don’t want the US to legalize.
    It’d kill the organized drug crime at the border.

    Children will have less access if legal.
    Currently kids can get marijuana at the school yard easier than adults can on the street.
    During prohibition anyone could get booze.
    Not any more.

    Alcohol is a narcotic.
    Highly addictive.
    Kills people.
    Causes crime.

    Marijauna in 5000 yrs of history has never harmed anyone at all.
    Even caffeine, aspirin & dirty water kill people every year.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Oh, we don’t smoke marijuana in Contra Costa,
    we don’t take no trips on LSD…