Politics Blog
By Joe Garofoli
Thursday, October 17, 2013 – 05:00 p.m.

Gavin Newsom is out front on another controversial social issue. Nearly a decade ago, it was same sex marriage. And for a while — like at the 2004 Democratic convention — he was political uranium. Back in the day, Barack Obama didn’t even want to have his photo taken with Newsom. Of course, that was before the president “evolved” on gay marriage.

Now, as we explain in our Chronicle story Thursday, Newsom is leading the charge to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in California.

His fellow advocates, many of whom have long toiled in anonymity, agree that having the Lite Guv of the world’s eighth-largest economy leading the charge on a social issue is a good thing.

“It’s amazing to have Newsom come out on this,” said Neill Franklin, retired Maryland State Police major who is now the executive director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). “It shows his courage.”

Ah, yes, courage. Often a character trait in short supply among politicians.

Newsom admitted that he has long supported legalizing pot, but didn’t have the courage to “come out” about it until about a year ago. The turning point? When many of his fellow Democrats privately said they supported abolishing the death penalty but didn’t stand up for the 2012 state ballot measure that would have done so. It failed.

“I was floored that all my friends — Democrats — were nowhere to be found on that statewide,” Newsom said. “And I thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ I’ve heard them all give speeches on it.”

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