Oakland City Officials Come Out For Legalizing Marijuana


Photo: The Fresh Scent

​Could it be all that medical marijuana tax money starting to flow into city coffers?

Oakland City Attorney John Russo last week endorsed the California ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, and the City Council seems ready to join him, reports Kelly Rayburn at The Oakland Tribune.
Russo called the legalization initiative, Tax Cannabis 2010, an overdue change in California’s marijuana policy.
“What we’ve been trying to do is fight a raging fire with a watering can,” Russo said. “The better way is to cut off the oxygen.”

Photo: Living In The O
Oakland City Attorney John Russo: “What we’ve being trying to do is fight a raging fire with a watering can. The better way is to cut off the oxygen”

​Russo and others compare the ban on cannabis to the country’s failed alcohol Prohibition.
“You don’t see anyone running across the border with a six pack,” said Mauricio Garzon, a campaign coordinator on Tax Cannabis 2010. “You don’t see people shooting people [over alcohol]in Chicago like you did during Prohibition.”
According to Garzon, Russo is California’s first city attorney to back legalization publicly, though he said the campaign expects others to come forward. A number of retired law enforcement officers also support the measure.
Organizations that have announced their opposition to legalizing marijuana include the usual list of suspects. Included are law enforcement organizations looking for job security by continuing to bust potheads — the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Peace Officers’ Association — and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
All the major gubernatorial candidates have also spinelessly refused to back legalization.
Democratic candidate and former Oakland mayor, California Attorney General Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, has not commented on the specific ballot initiative since he is responsible for writing the title and summary of the measure, according to spokesman Sterling Clifford.
Both leading Oakland mayoral candidates, former state Sen. Don Perata and Councilmember Jean Quan, support the measure. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who is considering a mayoral run, supports it as well.
Kaplan said she especially liked that the initiative would allow local governments control over marijuana.
“Cities can choose not to allow cannabis sales and production or can choose to allow it,” Kaplan said. “And if we choose to allow it, we can choose what controls and regulations are put in place to control it.”
Most Oakland council members, as individuals, have already endorsed Tax Cannabis 2010. A council committee is scheduled to decide May 13 if the full council should pass a resolution in support of legalization.