CA: Candidates’ Cannabis Use

Photo Credit: Scott Lewis

On Tuesday night, candidates for county supervisor District 4 — sans former DA Bonnie Dumanis — gathered for a debate hosted by San Diegans for Safe Access, a group that rallies mostly for medical marijuana infrastructure and permissive regulations.

There was not much daylight on policy issues between the four candidates there: Nathan Fletcher, Ken Malbrough, Omar Passons and Lori Saldaña.

They all support lifting the county’s ban on cannabis dispensaries and distribution systems in unincorporated areas. All, but one (Malbrough), support regulating delivery services separate from storefronts, if the ban is lifted.

All, but one (Passons), support cannabis lounges if a proposal for one comes up. All of them support Genevieve Jones-Wright for district attorney.

But the most interesting moment came at the end of the debate, when the candidates were asked about their own experiences with cannabis.

Malbrough and Passons both said they had youthful experimentations with the drug. But Saldaña and Fletcher had more contemporaneous experience.


I will admit I was late to the cannabis world. I grew up in a very rural, conservative environment where it wasn’t a thing. In college, I was an athlete and we were subject to drug testing and I spent 10 years in the Marine Corps where we were also subject to pretty rigorous drug testing. So I am an infrequent, but occasional user, and I don’t think you have to have this be a part of your daily life to understand why it’s important and to understand why people who are in need and in pain need this in order to just get through the day, and that’s my brothers and sisters who I served with, who I see.


So I am naturally a curious person and so I did try marijuana at different times, and I have had friends that have had referrals and they shared with me — I guess you’re not supposed to do that, but they have said, “This will help you sleep,” or “This will help with aches and pains” or “This really helps me for this.”

The question now: The organizers of the debate said they didn’t even invite Republican Bonnie Dumanis because of her hostility to cannabis. Will her and her team jump on Fletcher’s admission of cannabis use? Would that be good politics? If they don’t attack him for using cannabis, does that mean we have officially seen the taboo fall?