CONTROLLER | When an election with close 4 million votes cast comes down to a difference of a mere 481 votes, the cause of the winning margin can be attributed to thousands of different minute factors. Weather is often a culprit, but maybe just as much as 500 people who would have otherwise voted for former Assembly Speaker John Perez also happening to schedule a colonoscopy for Tuesday, June 3. In that case, the pain in the ass Perez went through in seeking a recount was actually a reality for some of his supporters who failed to visit the polls. The East Bay Express, however, offers another possible reason for Betty Yee’s slim second place victory last month: pot heads.
The paper reported Dale Gieringer, the director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), saying, “In an election settled by 500 votes, anything would have made the difference. I’m certain the cannabis community delivered more than that number of votes for Betty. She courted us aggressively with her forthright support for legally taxed and regulated cannabis, and we all plugged her in our election guides.”
Yee, who resides in Alameda and is popular among county Democrats (she earned 60 percent of the vote here), did not shy away from the assertion. “I support medical cannabis and believe the State regulation of it should be strengthened,” Yee told the Express. “I also support adult use laws for legally taxed and regulated cannabis. California needs a strong state-level regulatory framework for medical cannabis from which adult use laws may be considered.”
Is it possible the controller’s race this November could be about the legalization of cannabis in California? Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen, a Republican, was the surprise top vote-getter last June and, as the paper points out, her city’s stance toward pot in the past has been harsh. With more Californians and municipalities viewing cannabis less as a nuisance and more as a potential source of tax revenue, the issue may not be helpful for Swearingen’s long shot chances. Despite winning the primary, Swearingen’s performance was the result of two strong Democrats, Perez and Yee, splitting the vote. In this case, almost literally.