Republican Ron Gold, the presumptive challenger to Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris, wants California to legalize and tax marijuana and use the proceeds for substance abuse and mental health treatment.
Gold, a Woodland Hills lawyer and former deputy to Attorney General Evelle Younger, told The Bee that decriminalizing pot would decrease the costs of enforcing victimless crimes and allow the state to direct more resources to serious criminals.
"I just think that police resources are so few, and we have so much to do, that going after someone who is having a joint in West Hollywood is about as useful as having another Carter's Little Liver Pill," Gold said.
"An adult is an adult," he added. "If you use those things - and you're stupid - we can't bar stupidity."
Harris is an overwhelmingly favorite to win reelection in November. A rising star of the Democratic Party, she's received 53 percent of the votes tallied so far in the seven-candidate primary election Tuesday.
Gold's stance puts him at odds not only with Harris but other high-profile Democrats like Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Gold favors adopting a version of Colorado's law.
"Basically, I am to the left of Harris on an issue that's always been very popular and critical in California," he said. "I view it as a matter of principle."
Gold's chief GOP rival in the primary was former veteran lawmaker Phil Wyman. He said in a recent news release that state lawmakers found guilty of certain crimes should face the death penalty.
Gold paused when asked what he thought of Wyman's suggestion.
"I think it's a little absurd," he said.
PHOTO: Ron Gold. Courtesy of the Ron Gold campaign.