Do you think the commercial licensing provision in Prop. 19, even though it doesn't set up a positive conflict, would survive a court challenge from the federal government?
Yes. The federal government can't change state law. They can't force the state to change its laws--there's pretty good case history on that.
What do you think the federal government's response will be if California legalizes under Prop. 19?
Well, did you see that Wall Street Journal piece about the Democrats looking to run more cannabis initiatives in 2012 to help them?
I did, and we've actually written about that idea too. [See Josh Green on the topic here.]
That can be a good sign that the Democrats see that this is an issue that's gonna help them, and so they're not gonna come out against it. Plus, Obama would have to come out against democracy and the will of the people voting, so I think there's a lot of reasons why they won't. But we don't know what they'll do.
At the same time, both Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer have endorsed the No on 19 campaign. Were you surprised by that?
No, and honestly that may be helping us in the polls because there's such an anti-incumbent mood. We may have to send them a thank-you note, just like they will owe us a thank-you note for helping to get them elected by bringing out the young Democratic voters.
As of about a week and a half ago, neither of the two mega-donors in the marijuana legalization scene--George Soros and Peter Lewis--had chipped in on this. Is that still the case, or have you gotten anything from them?
Yeah, the last I heard they haven't.
Have you talked to them?
Uh-huh. They're looking at it. They're considering it.
Do you need an influx of cash at the end to put this over the edge?
I guess it depends on what happens with the opposition, if they raise a lot of money, whether we need to try to counteract their campaign.
If Prop. 19 passes, how many counties do you think will go ahead in the next couple years and allow for commercial sale and set up regulation and taxation systems?
There's about nine cities that halve already put adult cannabis tax referendums on their local ballots to be ready when Prop. 19 passes. Six cities passed adult legalization initiatives or resolutions back in 2006 or so. I think there's a number of places that will move ahead.
At times you've pitched this as a solution to California's budget crisis, but since counties would be reaping the tax benefit, do you think Prop. 19 can make a significant budgetary impact on the state?
Yes, and not just from the direct taxes but the indirect taxes, like I was talking about all the students we're bringing in from out of state [to Oaksterdam University]. Over half of our students, of our hundred first weekend seminars, are from out of state, so that's a lot of hotel rooms and jobs and taxes traded there, and all the other food and things people spend money on. When I go to Amsterdam, I spend more on hotels and transportation and everything else than I do on cannabis products, but I go there for the cannabis.