Can Governor Jerry Brown Veto Recreational Weed Becoming Legal? It’s No Longer In His Hands

BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 13: Activists demanding the legalization of marijuana march past the Reichstag during the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 13, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. German proponents of cannabis legalization are hoping that the legalization in several states in the USA in recent years will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Source: Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Nov. 8, Californians had the chance to legalize recreational marijuana use in their state. But even though voters passed Proposition 64, some might worry that a veto by Gov. Jerry Brown could end the dreams of legalized pot use. But because of the state's rather unique proposition system, no California governor can veto a ballot measure that a majority passes in the Golden State.

California's system of turning a ballot initiative into law is a unique one. All the way back in 1911, then-governor Hiram Johnson set the stage for California's current process, by giving voters the power to craft initiatives and referendums, not to mention the infamous recall. (Current California Gov. Brown has been threatened with a recall eight times.) 

The idea was to institute a form of government closer to "direct democracy," with the power to legislate put firmly in the hands of voters. The pros and cons of giving the general population that kind of power are regularly argued over, but California's system looks unlikely to change anytime soon. And that's good news for the "Yes on 64" crowd. 

Gov. Brown, has voiced criticism and concerns about the issue of legalizing recreational pot use in the past. Despite being a Democrat and leading one of the most liberal states in the nation, Brown has declined to weigh in on the measure, according to The Intercept. Back in 2010, a majority of voters agreed with Brown, at least in terms of legalizing recreational marijuana. Proposition 19 was similar to 2016's Proposition 64, but was defeated at the polls by a margin of 7 points. 

Since then, four states have legalized recreational marijuana: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. And this year, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada also voted on whether to make their states open to recreational weed (at the time of writing, results were still coming in but Massachusetts had also legalized recreational marijuana). It seems likely that the shift of attitude in California is due, at least in part, to the example of other states moving forward with legalization. And unfortunately for Brown, California doesn't allow him any veto power to stop it. 

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