The uncertainty California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom faced from the Republican-driven recall election also meant uncertainty for California’s cannabis industry. In July the state was almost evenly split whether Newsom should stay or go. But his campaign picked up momentum and he won in a landslide on Tuesday — good news for the state’s cannabis industry.
In a recent news release, California NORML Director Dale Gieringer said the Republican-backed effort was sponsored by constituents who are “no friends of cannabis or criminal justice reform.” During the onset of COVID-19 government shutdowns, Newsom was mocked by critics and recall advocates for declaring cannabis an essential service.
Small farms in the Emerald Triangle, where cannabis cultivation has a long, storied history, are currently going through hard times and Newsom has been blamed for many of the struggles.
“However, he was elected governor in 2019 and it was Jerry Brown, not Gavin Newsom, who implemented the voter initiative Prop. 64 and passed the current cannabis law,” said Jared Schwass, who practices law in the cannabis space as the founder of Schwass Law Firm. “As such, Gov. Newsom has received criticism for Gov. Brown’s decisions and policymaking.”
Newsom has supported equity applicants; improved and streamlined the state’s burdensome regulatory system; afforded business tax deductions; allowed billboard advertising; and supported measures to expand on-site consumption and licensed cannabis events.
Newsom helped provide relief extensions on provisional cultivation licenses awaiting California Environmental Quality Act review, and he supported a $100-million grant to aid local businesses in passing that review.
To simplify California’s regulatory scheme, Newsom consolidated the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division, and the Department of Public Health’s Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch into the Department of Cannabis Control housed under California’s Department of Business, Consumer Services, and Housing.
In his victory speech to his supporters Newsom said:
“It appears we’re enjoying an overwhelmingly no vote tonight here in the state of California. But ‘no’ is not the only thing that was expressed tonight. I want to focus on what we said yes to as a state. We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic. We said yes to people’s right to vote without fear of fake fraud or voter suppression. We said yes to women’s fundamental constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body. We said yes to diversity. We said yes to inclusion. We said yes to pluralism. We said yes to all those things that we hold dear as Californians and I would argue as Americans—economic justice, social justices, racial justice, environmental justice, our values where California’s made so much progress. All of those things were on the ballot this evening.
“And so, I’m humbled and grateful to the millions and millions of Californians that exercised their fundamental right to vote and express themselves so overwhelming by rejecting the division, by rejecting the cynicism, by rejecting so much of the negativity that’s defined our politics in this country over the course of so many years.”
Newsom’s margin of victory was larger than the 2018 gubernatorial election, when he defeated Republican opponent John Cox by 24 points.