After California residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown moved swiftly to implement regulations for the new market. Marijuana legalization, which took effect Jan. 1, has been applauded by many lawmakers in the state, either for the tax revenue its projected to bring in or for the effect it will have on the criminal justice system.
But not everyone is cheering.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas has been a staunch opponent of recreational marijuana all along and has become a poster child for local opposition to legal cannabis in California and in other states across the country.
He may not have much in common with the typical anti-marijuana voter, though.
He’s a Democrat and an African-American. In fact, he was the first black man elected to the L.A. County Board. He represents a swath of South Los Angeles that includes Compton, Inglewood and Watts. Polls show that Democrats and minorities are more likely to support legalization than Republicans and white Americans.
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