Gov’s recall-election wins means status quo for California cannabis sector

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom eased the concerns of some in the cannabis industry Tuesday night when he won in a landslide over conservative activists who had forced an off-year recall election.

With roughly two-thirds of the ballots counted, the Associated Press reported, Newsom was winning easily by 30 points.

His victory likely ensures things will not change for the California cannabis industry – at least for one more year. Newsom will be up for reelection in November 2022.

The recall election spurred divided opinions in the state’s cannabis industry, with many – including marijuana consultant Jackie McGowan, who was among the 46 candidates trying to unseat the governor – arguing that Newsom has done little to advance MJ business interests since taking office.

But plenty of others – including several major trade groups and labor unions that work closely with marijuana businesses – allied themselves with Newsom and worked on the governor’s behalf to garner votes.

Newsom backers in the marijuana industry noted that he:

  • Was the first governor to categorize the state’s cannabis businesses as “essential” at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a move that arguably led other governors to take similar action, and allowed the industry to continue operations uninterrupted.
  • Consolidated California’s three cannabis regulatory agencies into a single entity that will oversee the industry, ostensibly more effectively.

Newsom’s critics in the cannabis space, however, maintain that the governor has fallen short on such political goals as reducing state taxes and helping expand the industry’s footprint around the state.

– John Schroyer