Medical Marijuana Patient Advocates Claim Victory in California Attorney General Race

Oakland, CA — Medical marijuana patient advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief today as Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley acknowledged defeat in his bid for California Attorney General. Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy organization, partnered with the American Cannabis Research Institute (ACRI) and others to strongly oppose Cooley’s campaign using a web site,, as well as video clips indicating how Cooley was bad for medical marijuana, the environment, and marriage equality, and other materials which were produced and disseminated to thousands of grassroots volunteers across the state.

“A defeat for Steve Cooley is a tremendous victory for patients,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “Not only will we have an ally in Kamala Harris to be able to advance civil rights protections for patients, but we have also shown that medical marijuana advocates are a powerful political force.” Cooley’s Democratic opponent, Kamala Harris, is California’s first female Attorney General. “This race shows that medical marijuana patients cannot be marginalized without a political consequence,” continued Sherer.

Advocates considered the Attorney General’s race to be the most important race for patients in California. Cooley has waged a long-fought battle against patient advocates on the issue of medical marijuana. As Los Angeles District Attorney, Cooley condoned dozens of SWAT-style raids on local dispensaries, aggressively prosecuted patients and their providers, and tried to criminalize the “sale” of medical marijuana. Cooley is also a long-time ally of the California Narcotics Officers Association, a staunch anti-medical marijuana group calling for the “eradication” of dispensaries. By contrast, as San Francisco District Attorney, Harris has shown consistent support for the state’s medical marijuana laws and oversaw one of the first local dispensary regulatory ordinances in the country.

Some of Cooley’s positions caused environmental and marriage equality advocates to ally themselves with ASA and the hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients throughout California. Cooley’s stance on Proposition 8, the 2008 anti-gay marriage initiative, and his weak record on environmental justice and enforcement created a groundswell of opposition in a race Cooley was expected to win. This loose coalition worked diligently in the final hours to show how Cooley’s position on a variety of issues made him “Not Cool” for California.

Notably, Cooley was defeated in Los Angeles County by 14.5 percent, more than 250,000 votes, despite local residents electing him three times as District Attorney. And, despite last-minute attack ads against Harris, paid for by a contribution of at least $1 million from the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a corporate front group funded by tobacco, insurance and gambling interests, and coordinated by Karl Rove, Cooley was ultimately unable to win the election.

While the race for Attorney General was the most important for California patients, a number of local ballot measures were decided on November 2nd that will have a significant impact on the patient community. For example, two measures banning dispensaries in Santa Barbara and Morro Bay were handily defeated. Also, in what appears to be a local taxation trend, measures were adopted in ten California cities (Albany, Berkeley, La Puente, Long Beach, Morro Bay, Oakland, Rancho Cordova, Richmond, Sacramento, San Jose, and Stockton), heavily increasing the cost of patients’ medicine, especially in La Puente and San Jose which will both now impose a 10 percent tax on top of the state’s existing sales tax.

Further information:
Campaign website used to defeat Steve Cooley:
NotCooley video on medical marijuana:
NotCooley video on the environment:
NotCooley video on marriage equality:
NotCooley poster:

– Article from Americans For Safe Access.