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Adam Carolla on Legalization

Adam Carolla: California Won’t Legalize

Marijuana advocates have long been bullish on the prospect of legalization in California. They’ve failed, and failed again, but the general attitude is that this time is the charm.

Adam CarollaComedian Adam Carolla begs to differ. Carolla, star of Loveline and the onetime Man Cave, says in an interview that voters won’t go along with cannabis reform in November, if only because they’re all a bunch of party poopers.

Carolla says Californians won’t make pot legal – even though it’s already easy to get under medical marijuana laws – because they love to enforce needless rules and regulations so they can control each other’s lives.

Never mind that the Golden State is well known for its embrace of personal freedoms, Carolla says. Locals also have a serious authoritarian streak, and that will lead to defeat at the ballot box.

Carolla: Authoritarian voters will reject legalization at ballot

“Every commercial that depicts California shows people running on the beach with the dog and the drink in their hand and having a big bonfire at the end of the night,” he said. “All of those activities are things you’d be arrested for if you lived in California.”

It’s not the world’s most coherent argument. Half the point of legalizing marijuana is to regulate it. It’s not like voters will be faced with a cannabis free-for-all come Election Day.

In fact, the proposal most likely to make the ballot would impose a low limit on possession for personal use, levy a tax, and tightly regulate a legal marijuana industry. If Californians love rules, there are plenty of them in this initiative.

But Carolla, who only tokes occasionally these days, says voters will stick with anti-marijuana laws – apparently just so they can mess with each other.

“Legalization is not a sure thing, because California loves telling people what to do and what not to do,” the comedian said.

It’s true that legalization isn’t a sure thing. Two previous attempts to make cannabis legal failed, one at the ballot box in 2010, the other in 2014 before advocates could even get the question before voters.

Third time’s (hopefully) a charm

An attendee holds marijuana buds at the International Cannabis & Hemp Expo in Oakland, California September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Mathew Sumner

But the new California initiative, led by former Facebook president Sean Parker, is chugging along and pulling down millions of dollars in funding. Observers expect it will make it to the ballot, and most think it stands a very good chance of passing.

Carolla’s problem seems to be less with the odds of legalization than with his belief that his state isn’t libertarian enough. That’s a little hard to take seriously, given that many other states outrank California in terms of onerous regulations. Most of the Northeast, for example.

“We have more rules and regulations than any place in the world,” Carolla said. “It’s not as footloose and fancy-free as you think.”

In fact, this claim flies in the face of marijuana history in California. The state was the first to adopt medical marijuana, in 1996, and it did so without passing anything in the way of serious regulations. It took the state 20 years to impose some.

The new rules aren’t exactly beloved within the cannabis community. Local communities have enacted bans on dispensaries and cultivation by the hundreds, after a new state law gave them a hard deadline for imposing their own local regulations.

That deadline was quickly withdrawn by lawmakers when it became clear local governments were overreacting. But the damage was already done. Huge swaths of the state now prohibit medical marijuana businesses.

Still, a vote for legalization could fix the problem by making it harder for municipalities to shut out recreational marijuana. And that’s the whole point, the point Carolla seems to miss: Some regulations are better than others.

Tell us: Will legalization pass in November? If not, what will that mean for the future of cannabis in California?

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on and

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