Gavin Newsom

California Lt. Governor Gavn Newsom

Now that voters in Colorado and Washington State have legalized marijuana it has encouraged many officials and top politicians to speak out in support of reform. One of the latest is California’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D) who endorsed the legalization of marijuana in a recent New York Times article. From the NYT:

Mr. Newsom — who said he did not smoke marijuana himself — said that the ubiquity of the drug had led him to believe that laws against it were counterproductive and archaic. He supports its legalization, a notable position for a Democrat widely considered one of the leading contenders to be the next governor.

“These laws just don’t make sense anymore,” he said. “It’s time for politicians to come out of the closet on this.”

Every time a prominent elected official speaks out in support of marijuana legalization it is important because it helps reduce the stigma and it makes it easier for other politicians to “come out of the closet” on this issue, but Newsom’s endorsement of legalization is especially significant because of his position.

California is likely to be one of the next several states to move forward with legalizing marijuana. It is a liberal state that permits citizen initiatives. Having the support of at least one of the statewide officeholders is extremely helpful for a potential marijuana legalization initiative campaign in 2014 or 2016. In addition, there is a good chance Newson will run for governor in the near future. The Lt. Gov. position is normally seen as a springboard to higher office. That would theoretically put Newsom in the position to sign a legalization law approved by the state legislature even if the issue isn’t first addressed at the ballot box.

Photo by jdlasica under Creative Commons license