Capitol Alert

Kevin de León ‘not there yet’ on legal marijuana initiative

Kevin de León has concerns about marijuana legalization initiative

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, says he has not made up his mind about Proposition 64, the marijuana legalization measure, at a press conference in the Capitol on Aug. 3, 2016.
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Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, says he has not made up his mind about Proposition 64, the marijuana legalization measure, at a press conference in the Capitol on Aug. 3, 2016.

Like many Californians, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León is still debating how he’ll vote on the flood of ballot initiatives this November, including arguably the most high-profile of the bunch, a measure to legalize recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21.

“I’m not there yet,” de León said at a press briefing on Wednesday. “I don’t know if I’m behind the times in comparison to other folks, but I still have my concerns. I have yet to make a final determination where I will stand as an individual citizen on this issue.”

Among the trepidations he cited were the THC content of marijuana, “which is much higher than before”; gummy-bear edibles and other weed products seemingly aimed at minors; and a report spike in emergency room visits in Colorado, where recreational pot was legalized in 2012.

But de León added that he did not feel fully informed and remained open to the possibility of supporting the initiative. He mentioned having had an opportunity to discuss the issue with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on a flight back from the Democratic National Convention last week.

“I don’t want to prejudice against it. I’m in the process still of receiving more information to hopefully make an intelligent decision,” he said. “Whether people care what I believe on this issue, I have no idea.”

Few prominent California politicians have taken a stand on the measure so far. Among statewide elected officials, only Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has endorsed it; U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is formally opposed, while her retiring colleague Sen. Barbara Boxer said she is leaning toward supporting it.

In March, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon told The Bee that he was “in support of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.”

“The extent to which it tends to be addicting seems to be inconclusive or nonexistent. It doesn’t have the sort of cancerous effects that tobacco has,” he said. “The illegality of it seems to be almost a remnant.”

California was the first state to allow medical marijuana. Now, two decades later, voters are expected to be asked whether to legalize recreational use of the drug. The legalization measure headed for the statewide November ballot is the product o

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

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