Brownell, Gordon: Senate marijuana reform


Gordon Brownell: We needed twenty one votes, and getting nineteen votes from the senate democrats was not easy. There were a number of relatively conservative southern California democratic senators who were opposed to the bill. Some of whom had said they were gonna vote no on the bill. Ruben Ayala from San Bernardino County was one of them. He was a vote that we needed and he’d indicated early on that he was not gonna support it. I was present at the meeting that George had with Senator Ayala late one afternoon at Senator Ayala’s office maybe around five thirty or six that night. George sat across his desk and said, “Ruben, we need your vote. This is not gonna happen without your vote, and we need it, and I need it and I want it.” They went back and forth, and when we walked out of Senator Ayala’s office at the end of the meeting he had committed to vote for the bill. He did not want to vote for the bill, but George persuaded him to do so and he kept him. There were other democratic senators, Joe Kenick from Long Beach who was someone who was more liberal, but he was very concerned about the politics of supporting the bill. George did the same thing with Senator Kenick. There were a number of others that George was able to meet with. Randolph Collier from northern California who was the Dean of the Senate who represented basically the northern half of the state on the eastern side of the state. Someone who was not a supporter of marijuana law reform at all, and never had been. George was able to get Senator Collier’s support. They knew he was leaving the Senate. They knew he wanted it, and I wouldn’t say it was done so much as a personal favor to George in a lot of ways, but some of these democrats voted for the bill even though they didn’t support it. They didn’t want it to pass and such. If some other democratic senator had been sponsor of the bill we probably wouldn’t have had their vote, but they voted for the bill because of George Moscone.


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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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