CA Atty. Gen. Candidates Won’t Pledge To Defend Legal Marijuana


Photo: KALW News
Kamala Harris (left) and Steve Cooley: Neither will give a straight answer on defending Prop 19 marijuana legalization if California voters pass it

‚ÄčBoth Candidates Hazy On Whether They’d Defend Prop 19 In Court

It seemed a simple enough question in Tuesday’s debate between the two candidates for Attorney General of California: If voters pass Proposition 19, legalizing marijuana, would they defend it in court?
Neither Democrat Kamala Harris, the San Francisco district attorney, nor Republican Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles district attorney infamous for his personal battle against medical marijuana, was able to muster the courage for either a “Yes” or a “No” on the ballot initiative to legalize cannabis for recreational adult use, reports Peter Hecht at The Sacramento Bee.

But D.A. Cooley, a persistent and loud-mouthed critic of California’s booming medical marijuana industry, strongly suggested he would not carry the banner for Prop 19 as a defender of voter-approved recreational cannabis.
“I really am strongly opposed to Proposition 19 for many reasons,” Cooley said during the debate at the University of California – Davis. “I would be inclined to advise that it is unconstitutional and pre-empted by federal law.”
Harris, meanwhile, said she would convene federal, state and local law enforcement officials to review Prop 19’s impact on public safety and discuss how they believe “implementation should look.”
But Harris did not step forward with a pledge to defend Prop 19.
“I believe that if it were to pass, it would be incumbent on the attorney general to convene the top lawyers and the experts on constitutional law to do a full analysis of the constitutionality of that measure… and what action, if any, should follow,” Harris non-answered.
A reasonably informed opinion of the issue is that while California’s Attorney General would be duty-bound to defend state law — including Prop 19 — in court. Even if the A.G. drops the ball or is too damned chicken to stand up to the feds, then citizens’ coalitions can defend the measure, and would not have to rely on the Attorney General to do so.
While both candidates gave unsatisfying answers on whether they’d defend Prop 19 in court, it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to believe that Harris — known as an innovator — would be more friendly to pot legalization, and to defending it, than Cooley, widely known as a “cop’s cop” and a devout hater of all things cannabis.