Here’s One Way to Encourage Voting: Free Weed

San Jose marijuana club wants to turn out the vote.

Marijuana leaves. 
National Journal
Elahe Izad
Add to Briefcase
Elahe Izad
June 3, 2014, 7:21 a.m.

The priv­ilege of par­ti­cip­at­ing in a free, demo­crat­ic elec­tion should be reas­on enough to vote for most Amer­ic­ans. Get­ting free burri­tos or cof­fee for sport­ing “I Voted” stick­ers sweetens the deal. But San Jose is one-up­ping all of that with the prom­ise of weed for voters in Tues­day’s primary elec­tions.

Top that, Star­bucks.

The marijuana, for card-car­ry­ing med­ic­al marijuana users only, comes cour­tesy of the Sil­ic­on Val­ley Can­nabis Co­ali­tion as part of its “Weed for Votes” cam­paign. Just show up at par­ti­cip­at­ing can­nabis clubs with an “I Voted” stick­er or bal­lot stub to qual­i­fy for dis­coun­ted or free marijuana.

SVCC wants to en­cour­age voters to get out and cast votes for “can­nabis-friendly” can­did­ates run­ning for city of­fice, such as coun­cil mem­bers and the may­or. The sher­iff and state’s at­tor­ney are also on the bal­lot, and the group’s voter guide makes it clear who they want in of­fice.

No marijuana-spe­cif­ic meas­ure ap­pears on the bal­lot, but pro-can­nabis act­iv­ists want to mo­bil­ize their base to back can­did­ates who they feel take “reas­on­able” ap­proaches to marijuana policy. The city is in the middle of con­sid­er­ing in­creas­ing reg­u­la­tions on med­ic­al marijuana.

“We have a huge op­por­tun­ity to make a large im­pact in who runs San Jose,” SVCC dir­ect­or John Lee said in a state­ment. “Al­though we may not have reg­u­la­tions on the June bal­lot, in­sur­ing the right politi­cians are elec­ted is even more im­port­ant.”

The polit­ic­al im­pact of play­ing up marijuana is something Demo­crats have been eye­ing as a way to help them in a midterm cycle, when they typ­ic­ally struggle to get their base out to vote. Some polling sug­gests that marijuana bal­lot ini­ti­at­ives will help boost turnout, par­tic­u­larly among young­er voters. Take Col­or­ado or Wash­ing­ton, where turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds spiked in 2012 when pot-leg­al­iz­a­tion ap­peared on the bal­lot. But that didn’t hap­pen in Cali­for­nia; youth turnout as a share of the elect­or­ate ac­tu­ally dropped in 2010, when a marijuana leg­al­iz­a­tion meas­ure ap­peared on the bal­lot.

But is San Jose’s pot giveaway even leg­al? Well, the marijuana is only for those who already have med­ic­al marijuana cards. And the Santa Clara County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice has said in a state­ment that the of­fer on its face doesn’t ap­pear to vi­ol­ate Cali­for­nia’s vote-buy­ing law, which bans try­ing to in­flu­ence voters with the prom­ise of things like free money, gifts, and em­ploy­ment. But, de­pend­ing on how the of­fer plays out, it could still vi­ol­ate state or even fed­er­al law, es­pe­cially since there are fed­er­al can­did­ates on the bal­lot.

The num­ber of small and large busi­nesses and cor­por­a­tions who of­fer free­bies to voters on Elec­tion Day has boomed in re­cent pres­id­en­tial cycles. Those giveaways do ap­pear to vi­ol­ate fed­er­al elec­tion law.

One easy way to avoid get­ting in­to leg­al troubles is to give the free stuff to all people, re­gard­less of wheth­er they voted. Al­though just giv­ing away pot to every­body who has a med­ic­al-marijuana card in San Jose would surely pose plenty of prob­lems of its own. Like, sup­ply-and-de­mand-type prob­lems.

What We're Following See More »
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
2 days ago
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
2 days ago
Trump Rails On Obamacare
2 days ago

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Trump Goes After The Media
2 days ago

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
2 days ago

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.