Showdown over Prop. 19 next week in SF

Please join me as I moderate an all-star panel discussion next Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the Commonwealth Club of California on Proposition 19, the ballot initiative to legalize recreational use and personal cultivation of marijuana.

20101027-Marijuana-Politics-mThe panelists will be Prop. 19 co-author and Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee; RAND Drug Policy Research Center Co-director Beau Kilmer; and No on Prop. 19 campaign manager Tim Rosales.

This discussion will happen with less than a week to go before Election Day, and Prop. 19 is struggling: A Public Policy Institute of California poll released yesterday only 44 percent of likely voters polled Oct. 10 through 17 intend to vote for Prop. 19 – an eight-percentage-point drop since September – with 49 percent planning to oppose it and 7 percent undecided.

Supporters such as the California branch of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the California Young Democrats, the Republican Liberty Caucus, the California Council of Churches and several big labor unions say legalization would end the hypocritical and racially disproportionate ban on a drug less harmful than alcohol, while saving law enforcement costs, creating new tax revenue for cities and counties, and making it harder for kids to get marijuana.

Opponents such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving; most major law enforcement groups; all major-party candidates for governor, state attorney general and U.S. Senate; the California League of Cities; the California State Association of Counties; and business groups say the measure threatens public safety, violates federal law and drug-free workplace rules, allows a patchwork of different rules and won’t raise much tax revenue.

The event is at the club’s offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. (at Second) in San Francisco; check-in starts at 6 p.m., the program starts at 6:30 p.m. and there’ll be a networking reception at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for club members, $20 for nonmembers or $7 for students with valid ID, and are available online.

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.