California’s 1911 Removal Act means that a governor who receives 49.9% of the vote on removal can be replaced with someone who receives 20% or even less.
This is what is at stake for Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who opposes a Republican-backed attempt to oust him during a September 14 dismissal of the California governor.
Should a simple majority of voters answer “yes” to the recall question in the two-part election process, Newsom will be removed from office and replaced by a candidate who receives the highest number of votes for the latter question for a substitute candidate. The current top candidate for the recall is Republican Larry Elder, who, according to polls, attracts more than 30% of the likely voters in a race of 46 candidates.
The substitution rules only require a plural, meaning Elder only needs to finish before the other 45 candidates to win and remove the remainder of Newsom’s four-year term – which ends January 2, 2023 – should Newsom be removed. Elder will not run against Newsom.
As a conservative talk radio host, Elder would mean trouble for the state’s cannabis industry, said Jared Schwass, who founded the Schwass law firm, a cannabis lawyer. Schwass was born and raised in Mendocino County.
“Larry Elder has stated that he wants to tax and regulate cannabis that is already subject to over-taxation and regulation, and increase the number of cannabis-related arrests,” Schwass said. “The changes Elder proposed would stifle growth in the cannabis industry, continue to crowd out small businesses already struggling in the industry, and return to a ‘war on drugs’ type of police enforcement.”
On the flip side, many California cannabis companies, particularly small farms, are going through tough times and Newsom has been blamed for much of the fighting, Schwass said. However, the roots of some of these struggles lie outside Newsom’s governorship, he said.
In California, the shape of the adult industry is hampered by high taxes, licensing hurdles, and onerous regulations that make it difficult for legal operators to compete in the illicit market. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office recently estimated that adult cannabis companies operate in less than a third of the nation’s jurisdictions.
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When it comes to turning the state’s industry in a more positive direction, Newsom wasn’t perfect, according to California NORML. The advocacy group released a statement following the recall election, which said Newsom had been criticized for not pushing hard enough to ease some of the industry’s burdens and for advocating anti-smoking rules affecting cannabis mistakenly treat like tobacco.
“But his hands are also tied by them [state] Legislation, federal law, and California’s overly restrictive Prop. 64 initiative, ”said Dale Gieringer, director of California’s NORML, in the press release.
California’s adult cannabis use election measure, approved by voters in the November 2016 election, Proposition 64, was enacted under former Governor Jerry Brown, who was not on the frontline for legalization prior to the initiative.
During a March 2014 national broadcast on Meet the Press, Brown said he wasn’t sure if legalizing cannabis was a good idea. “The world is pretty dangerous, very competitive,” he said. “I think we need to stay vigilant, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the stoners can get together.”
While next week’s gubernatorial sponsors are not friends of cannabis or criminal justice reform, Gieringer said no governor has supported legal cannabis like Newsom.
“When other politicians ducked the issue, then – Lt. Governor Newsom became the highest-ranking state official to advocate legal adult use and formed a task force to lead the way, “he said.
Since Newsom became governor, he has appointed capable, helpful officials who are accessible, according to California’s NORML, which added that Newsom’s government “advanced measures to expand local use and licensed cannabis events; Promoting equity applicants; afford trade tax deductions; Allow billboard advertising; and to improve and streamline the annoying regulatory system of the state. ”
Former Governor Brown was also in office during the implementation phase of California’s Act to Control, Regulate, and Tax the Use of Adult Marijuana, which initiated the collection of a 15 percent excise tax, a sales tax, and a cultivation tax when selling for Adults came on the market in January 2018.
As such, Newsom has received criticism for Brown’s decisions and policies, Schwass said.
Since Newsom took over as governor in early 2019, California’s cannabis market has continued to grow, posting record sales of $ 2.6 billion in the first half of 2021, generating more than $ 638 million in tax revenue in those two quarters alone.
RELATED: California’s cannabis industry has contributed $ 2.8 billion in tax revenue since 2018
Earlier this year, Newsom passed law to simplify California’s regulatory system by consolidating regulators. Previous laws generally divided responsibility for state licensing and regulation of commercial cannabis activities under Assembly Bill 141 between the Bureau of Cannabis Control in the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the State Department of Public Health.
“While Governor Gavin Newsom did not achieve everything the cannabis industry had hoped for during his tenure, he helped us move forward by proposing and signing Assembly Bill 141, which consolidates the three cannabis agencies into a single regulator [the Department of Cannabis Control] as well as granting exemption extensions for preliminary cultivation licenses pending CEQA review, ”said Julia Jacobson, CEO of Aster Farms, a sustainable cannabis company in Northern California.
Also this year, Newsom backed $ 100 million in one-time grant funding to assist local businesses with temporary licenses in transitioning to more permanent licenses – a required step required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The mandate to switch all companies from temporary to formal licenses was due to come in 2019, but the deadline has since been postponed (twice) to January 1, 2022. Newsom has urged that this deadline be extended by a further six months.
When that $ 100 million grant was approved, Newsom’s senior cannabis advisor Nicole Elliott said the governor was committed to the success of the state’s legal industry.
Schwass said, “California’s cannabis industry is not in the position stakeholders would like, but it is in a good position for further growth and, with a few tweaks, could be the open industry that we all have come to expect from it. Governor Newsom has shown that he is ready to make the necessary tweaks, but many have been delayed as he has been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic since early 2020. “
Gieringer said Newsom deserves credit for making cannabis an essential service amid the incipient shutdown of the COVID-19 government, “a move ridiculed by critics and recall advocates.”
In addition, Newsom approved emergency rules to activate certain cannabis-related allowances during the pandemic, such as:
But more important than what Newsom has done for the cannabis industry are the consequences of being recalled, Jacobson said.
“We’re starting a month-long process of three very complicated agencies consolidating and changing regulations,” she said. “License applicants have already been informed that they could wait 18 months for government approval during this period. It would likely disrupt the consolidation and operations of many cannabis companies that propose or change applications when it comes to a new governor with powers to appoint new agency heads. “
Since the people incorporated the power of initiative, referendum, and dismissal into the California Constitution in 1911, there have been 54 attempts to recall California governors, according to the California Secretary of State. Only one governor was removed – in 2003 Democrat Gray Davis.
Newsom is unlikely to join Davis.
On September 10, the latest poll by the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, showed that 60.1% of likely voters wanted to keep Newsom and 38.5% wanted it gone is.