California Democrats remain neutral on marijuana initiative

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In a move intended to protect its statewide candidates, the California Democratic Party this weekend voted to remain neutral on a November ballot measure that would legalize marijuana.

Updated 1:49 p.m.

The party’s vice chairman Eric Bauman said that legalizing pot may be popular among Democrats in places like Los Angeles, but not in the conservative Central Valley.

“Part of politics is recognizing the reality that not all things are the same in all places.”

He said that’s why the party’s staying neutral on Proposition 19. Under the measure, California would treat pot like alcohol.

Adults 21 and older could possess, cultivate, or transport it for personal use. Local and state governments could tax it.

Bauman said powerful Democratic groups plan to support the measure, even if the party opposes it, including the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

“They’re not a pro-drug union, but they believe that thousands of union jobs will be created first of all in the growing and packaging end of it.”

Bauman said local Democratic Party committees are also free to endorse Prop 19.

Bauman defended the party’s recent decision to stay neutral on the November ballot measure, saying it makes political sense.

“You know, it’s really an interesting dilemma for Democrats," said Bauman. "While most Democratic activists and strategists believe that the marijuana initiative will help bring out young voters. which only benefits the Democratic Party, many Democratic activists and strategists believe that it could be damaging to our candidates for governor and U.S. senator and attorney general and other races.”

That’s because many conservative Democrats and independents oppose legalizing marijuana. The Republican Party’s expected to oppose Proposition 19.