California Governor Gavin Newsom faces off September 14 in a pivotal recall race as the state’s future hangs in the balance. Forty-six contenders appear on the ballot including Democratic challenger Jackie McGowan—who vows to make reforming California’s cannabis industry a priority including lowering taxes and restrictions.
McGowan is running against contenders such as conservative radio host Larry Elder and Republican Caitlyn Jenner. Living in Napa, she sees what she calls an “existential crisis” in the cannabis industry, announcing her bid last July. Voters have until today, September 7 to mail-in a request for a ballot, or until September 14 in-person.
On day one, if elected, McGowan said she will sign a trio of executive orders: eliminating the cannabis cultivation tax, reducing the cannabis excise tax to 10 percent and declaring cannabis an agricultural product.
“Those three issues are paramount to offering the cannabis industry immediate relief so they can survive and begin to compete with the thriving illicit marketplace,” McGowan told High Times. “The legal market is hanging on by their fingernails and is absolutely in crisis and once I am elected, I can begin to offer them hope again.”
McGowan told the Sacramento Bee that in the beginning, she decided to run for governor because of California’s mismanagement of the cannabis industry, and since then she has since expanded her platform. High tax rates only embolden the black market, advocates say.
McGowan’s platform includes goals to decriminalize psilocybin, bolster eviction protection laws for tenants and take Nevada’s cue to legalize sex work.
If more than 50 percent of ballots returned in the September 14 special election are cast in favor of ousting Newsom, the recall candidate who receives the greatest number of votes will replace him. In the event that Governor Newsom is recalled, he would be the third American governor and second in California to be removed from office via a recall election. The last time that happened was when former governor Gray Davis was ousted and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.
McGowan has worked as a lobbyist and cannabis policy advocate for seven years, and prior to that, she spent 18 years on Wall Street, according to her campaign website. “I’m an 18 year Wall Street veteran and have worked in cannabis policy, consulting, and lobbying for the past 7 years,” McGowan said on her website. “I have had a front-row seat to how politics work at the Capitol as well as an intimate relationship with how the legalization of cannabis has been an abject failure.”
On McGowan’s website, it reads, “Question 1 – Vote NO” and “Question 2 – Vote Jacqueline McGowan.” McGowan said she would rely on executive orders as governor, rather than relying on the Democratic supermajority-controlled Legislature.
The candidate chose not to target Governor Newsom, but she ran to be sure that the power of the seat of California governor doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. “I am not going to urge you to vote yes on Question 1 on the recall ballot,” McGowan stated on her website. “But for Question 2, California must have an option that represents its spirit, and I strongly wish to be that candidate for you. I am thrilled for the chance to serve California without being tied to corporate money or party interests.”
Under Governor Newsom’s first term as governor after winning California’s 2018 gubernatorial election with nearly 62 percent of all votes cast—he has hit problems. For instance, Governor Newsom was criticized for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and other pressing issues, such as homelessness and wildfire management.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders appeared in ads urging voters to vote no on the Governor Newsom recall. President Joe Biden, who urged Californians to vote against recalling Newsom in a tweet last month.
Benjamin M. Adams is Staff Writer at High Times, and has written for Vice, Forbes, HuffPost, The Advocate, Culture, and many other publications. He holds a Bachelor of Communication from Southern New Hampshire University.