We are proud to once again announce our medical marijuana patients and advocates voter guide for the 2016 primary election. Below are our recommendations for safe access in San Diego County:
Please note: A * denotes a strategically critical race in this election season. This is usually a close contest with a clear choice for and against safe access.
The easiest race to decide an endorsement. Senator Bernie Sanders deserves credit for being the first major presidential candidate in history to support outright legalization of marijuana. Speaking at a town hall meeting last year, Sanders declared, “It is time to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, it is time to end the arrests of so many people and the destruction of so many lives for possessing marijuana.” He followed up by introducing the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act,” to let states regulate marijuana. Speaking to Californians, Bernie also endorsed the AUMA legalization initiative that will be on the ballot in November.
Two Democratic candidates are leading the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Boxer. Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County has been a consistent supporter of medical marijuana over the years. Since joining the House in 1997, she has compiled a near perfect voting record on marijuana and drug reform issues, the longest such record of any Southern California Democrat. Asked in a debate about what the she would do in Washington to reduce crime in California, she replied, “First of all, I believe that we need to get the federal government to get marijuana off of schedule one.” At times, Sanchez has a tendency to let her tongue outrace the bounds of political discretion. When interest in legalization first heated up in California, she suggested that the state explore a pilot program of legalized, regulated marijuana, but quietly retreated after getting zero support from her colleagues.
Attorney General Kamala Harris is staunchly progressive, but cautious when it comes to marijuana. As A.G., she did disappointingly little on behalf of medical marijuana, rebuffing requests to join other states in filing a rescheduling petition with the federal government. More seriously, Harris failed to speak up against the federal crackdown on dispensaries in California, despite the fact that as former District Attorney of San Francisco she should have known that the city’s dispensaries were working well and the federal charges against them were bogus. Running for re-election, Harris waved off a question about legalization with a laugh, but later said she is “not opposed” to it and even sees it as “inevitable”. Speaking recently at the Democratic convention, Harris called the war on drugs “a failure” and called for ending the federal ban on medical marijuana. Most likely Harris would vote well enough in the Senate, but her lack of leadership in the state has been troubling.
Darrell Issa, the sitting congressional representative in this district has been terrible on the issue of medical marijuana access. He has voted against every federal legislation to relieve federal prosecution of medical marijuana patients. He openly advocated for the DOJ crackdown on state MMJ laws. Doug Applegate is his strongest challenger. Therefore, in protest of Darrell Issa’s horrific track record, we urge you to vote for Doug Applegate.
Duncan Hunter has consistently voted for pro-medical marijuana legislation. He also co-sponsored the “Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2015”, the “CARERS Act” and “Charlotte's Web Medical Access Act of 2015” and for this he has earned our endorsement.
Incumbent Congressman Juan Vargas has not been vocal on the issue of medical marijuana, but his voting record in congress has been consistently positive.
Incumbent congressman Scott Peters has been consistently voted for the rights of medical marijuana patients. He also has actively engaged with the local medical marijuana community, sending representatives to local meetings of Americans for Safe Access and openly advocating for patients’ rights. He also co-sponsored the “Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015”.
We are endorsing Susan Davis for Congress because she has consistently voted for pro-access legislation in Congress. That said, she has not been a vocal advocate, nor has she cosponsored any bills in favor of medical marijuana access or patients. We would like to see her to more in the future.
Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins has been a staunch supporter of medical marijuana patients right since long before her time in the California State Legislature. She championed the medical marijuana regulation and safety act, and has consistently voted in favor of patients right and safe access. We enthusiastically endorse her for state Senate.
The incumbent Assemblymember, Brian Jones, has a very mixed record when it comes to supporting medical marijuana legislation in the state legislature. His two opponents are also anti-access, and openly oppose safe access in the district. With no good options, we suggest sitting this race out.
Incumbent Marie Walderon has been, at best, a mixed bag on medical marijuana issues, and voted against access as a councilmember of Escondido. We suggest taking a gamble on her opponent Native American Andrew Masiel.
Incumbent Assemblymember Rocky Chavez is running unopposed. He has a mixed record on supporting safe access, albeit slightly better than that of his Republican colleagues in the Assembly. We hope it will continue to improve.
Progressive candidate Melinda Vazquez is running against the incumbent Brian Maienschein, who has a fairly poor record in regards to medical marijuana access and patient support. We believe that Melinda Vasquez could do far better.
Todd Gloria has been a staunch supporter of medical marijuana patients and rights during his time a councilmember in San Diego City and we look forward to him continuing this work in the State Legislature.
We strongly support incumbent assembly member Shirley Weber for re-election. She has been a strong supporter of medical marijuana patients’ rights and, as an African American woman, she has been quick to highlight the use of drug laws to persecute the African American community in California. Shirley Weber, keep up the good work!
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez is a passionate and dedicated assemblymember who is not afraid to advocate very vocally, and very strongly, for the causes she feels most passionate about. And while she has consistently voted for medical marijuana access, we wish that she would adopt this issue as one of her core priorities, because she could be one heck of an advocate in the state assembly. We recommend voting for Lorena Gonzalez, and we recommend that patients and advocates continue to work with her and speak to her about the urgency and importance of this issue.
We do not love incumbent Greg Cox, but he has been on the better side of the horrible votes taken by the board of supervisors on this issue. He voted to create a medical marijuana ordinance and he was against a permanent ban to rescind it. Therefore he has our un-enthusiastic support.
We recommend medical marijuana advocate Rudy Reyes against incumbent Diane Jacobs. Rudy Reyes was the lead plaintiff in class-action lawsuit against county officials, alleging violations of patients' rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act by their refusal to regulate the use of medical marijuana. His successful suit forced the County of San Diego to issue medical marijuana ID cards and set an important precedent to allow medical marijuana access for patients in every county in California.
His candidacy is a long shot, but the incumbent, Diane Jacobs, has consistently voted against safe access, and a vote for Rudy Reyes is a vote against Diane Jacobs.
Incumbent Dave Roberts has not been the advocate could be on this issue. We wish he would have the courage to be when it comes to medical marijuana access. That said, he also helped squash the calls for a permanent ban on medical marijuana access in the county in the recent round of votes. Without him there, the situation may have been a lot worse. His opponents, Kirstin Gespar and Sam Abed are outspoken prohibitionist who have fought medical marijuana in the previous positions. Therefore, while we are not overly enthusiastic about Dave Roberts, his re-election is a top priority to ensure continued medical marijuana access in unincorporated San Diego County.
Independent mayoral candidate Lori Saldana has been an outspoken advocate of medical marijuana access, both in her time at the state assembly and in public forums. She has paid multiple visits to the local meetings of Americans for Safe Access, and the Association of Cannabis Professionals to promote her candidacy. She would undoubtedly be our strongest advocate as mayor.
Democratic Mayoral Candidate Ed Harris also had a positive track record to preserve safe access in San Diego City in his time as interim councilmember in San Diego. He also spoke at a recent forum of the Association of Cannabis Professionals and pledged to be an independent voice willing to support safe access in the city.
Giving credit where credit is due, incumbent mayor Kevin Faulconer has not acted against safe access in San Diego City. And while that bar may appear low, when every other city in San Diego County rushed to ban all marijuana activity, San Diego City stood firm in its commitment to providing safe access. While the city council has not yet passed any proposals to support the supply chain of the existing dispensaries, no laws have been passed that permanently inhibit this from happening, and for this, we are grateful.
Democrat Barbara Bry is locked in a very tight race against Republican Ray Ellis for control of city council. This should matter to the medical marijuana community because Ray Ellis believes that marijuana is a gateway drug, while Barbara Bry believes in the medicinal potential of marijuana. San Diego City Council will continue to revise its medical marijuana regulations in the future and sympathetic councilmembers will be key. Therefore, we urge you to vote for Barbara Bry.
Candidate Chris Ward appeared before the Association of Cannabis Professionals to promote his candidacy. He spoke very knowledgably about the zoning issues facing medical marijuana dispensaries and had thoughtfull solutions, as well as a commitment to addressing the issue. Opponent Anthony Bernal did not respond to the invitation to speak, and in a recent interview with the times of San Diego, he appeared to be content with the current medical marijuana zoning regulations that do not allow for any safe access in District 3. Therefore, we recommend voting for Chris Ward.
We would like to endorse incumbent Mark Kearsey in this race. However, despite painting himself as a pro-business, libertarian, while he has not voted against medical marijuana access, he has also refused to champion it, or even speak about it, in any meaningful way.
Opponent Frank Tsimboukakis has pledged to fight for medical marijuana access, and has past safe access initiatives. Vote for Frank Tsimboukakis for District 5.
Democratic Candidates Jose Caballero and Justin DeCesare both attended meetings of the Association of Cannabis Professionals to speak about their candidacies. They both pledged to be revisit zoning for medical marijuana dispensaries in San Diego City, and were open to more access in District 7. Jose Caballero was the stronger advocate, speaking clearly about the benefits of medical marijuana for PTSD in his fellow veterans.
That said, incumbent Scott Sherman has not been against access. And while we wish he would be a stronger advocate, he has openly spoken about the medical benefits that he has seen in hospice patients first hand. He is not the strongest candidate in this race, but it would also not be fair to rate him as unacceptable.
There are three main candidates running in District 9 - Ricardo Flores, Georgette Gomez and Sarah Saenz. Two, Ricardo Flores and Georgette Gomez, accepted the invitation to speak at the meeting of the association of Cannabis Professionals. Georgette Gomez was the most knowledgeable regarding local policy at the meeting. Ricardo did however, did commit to doing the research to learn the details of the local zoning policy, and proceeded to correspond and further discuss these policies and his vision to enact better policies with ACP leadership and members in the following weeks.
Sarah Saenz also supports medical marijuana access. However, she was given repeated invitations to speak at the Association of Cannabis Professionals, but chose not to appear. Therefore, we feel it is only appropriate to endorse Georgette Gomez or Ricardo Flores, the candidates that chose to address the group.
Whomever wins, we are confident that we will have a safe access advocate in District 9.
City Attorney candidates Rafael Castellanos, Gil Cabrera and Bryan Pease all came to forums hosted by the association of Cannabis Professionals to address their vision for medical marijuana policy implementation by the City attorney’s office. They all pledged to address some of the drafting issues present in the current medical marijuana ordinance. Bryan Pease went a step further to pledge no prosecution against dispensaries operating out of zoning compliance from his office.
City Attorney candidate Mara Elliot was unable to attend, but we expect she would continue to operate in the mode of her current boss, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who, while he has not been against medical marijuana, has not pro-actively addressed issues that have been found with the San Diego City Zoning Ordinance.
We strongly urge you to vote against Robert Hickey, a law and order career prosecutor who pledges to “keep criminals in jail”. We unfortunately suspect his idea of criminals may very well include medical marijuana patients and providers.
No Recommendation – no meaningful impact on medical marijuana access.
We do not have any recommendations regarding the revisions to the San Diego City Charter or other San Diego City ballot propositions, since they do not appear to address safe access in any meaningful way.
Democratic Central Committee, Assembly District 71
Democratic Central Committee, Assembly District 76
Democratic Central Committee, Assembly District 77
Democratic Central Committee, Assembly District 78
Democratic Central Committee, 79th Assembly District –
Democratic Central Committee, 80th Assembly District
We do not have enough information to provide recommendations for Republican Central Committee at this time.