State Treasurer and Democratic candidate for governor John Chiang on Tuesday announced his office will study whether California should create a state bank to serve California’s newly legalized marijuana industry.
The effort will be coordinated with the state attorney general’s office, with both agencies trying to determine the costs, legal implications and other possible barriers to creating a state-run bank.
The biggest risk may come from Washington. U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has indicated that the federal government will begin enforcing federal laws banning marijuana in states where cannabis is legal.
But it didn’t take long for one of Chiang’s Democratic rivals in the governor’s race, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, to take a swipe at him. Within minutes of Chiang’s announcement, Newsom’s campaign manager criticized Chiang for not endorsing Proposition 64, which voters approved in 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana.
“John Chiang went out of his way to avoid endorsing Prop. 64 and virtually every other criminal justice reform ballot initiative since he’s been a statewide office holder,” Newsom campaign manager Addisu Demissie said in a statement.
The Chiang campaign dismissed the attack, saying the treasurer supported the private use of marijuana, but expressed reservations about whether the ballot measure would ensure cannabis was properly regulated and safeguards were in place.
“Today’s announcement is case in point how Treasurer Chiang is laying out concrete plans to tackle the issues facing California,” said Chiang’s press secretary, Nicholas Jordan. “While Gavin Newsom may have lost interest and is just looking for a pat on the back, there are still serious hurdles for the cannabis industry to overcome.”
Chiang and Newsom will join the other Democratic candidates for governor at a forum sponsored by the abortion-rights organization NARAL Pro-Choice California in San Francisco on Tuesday evening.