Brownell, Gordon: Moscone Civil Rights


Gordon Brownell: I can’t really speak as to what George’s personal thinking and motivation was. I just knew him and saw him as an advocate from the very beginning. He was very committed to a number of civil rights causes and issues, and marijuana reform fell into that category. He was also a very strong advocate in opposition to the death penalty at the same time. He was someone who was not afraid about taking on politically unpopular positions. Though being from San Francisco gave him a certain amount of flexibility that other legislators might not have enjoyed, that really didn’t make any difference when it came to Sacramento. He had to get the votes of legislators from throughout the state including conservative democrats and we tried republicans from southern California. He was just committed to it, but his motivations were personal. It’s hard to say, but he understood the issue. He understood the absurdity of people being treated as criminals for using marijuana. He believed in the rights of individuals to make that decision. He didn’t think it was proper use of the criminal law. He just turned out to be the best possible advocate that we could have in San Francisco.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library

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