MJ: Why haven’t more politicians come out in support of this?
GN: There is still a lot of big money to promote the status quo.
MJ: But when Californians had the chance to legalize marijuana in 2010 with Proposition 19, more money was spent in favor of the initiative than against it.
GN: Yeah, but that masks how politics works. You have outsized special interests that play huge in political campaigns. They didn’t play in that initiative, but they play profoundly in electoral politics with independent expenditures—not just direct contributions—that are holding the line on politicians from saying what they think.
MJ: What kinds of special interests? The alcohol industry?
GN: You name it. The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and incarcerates 24 percent of its prisoners. There’s a lot of money behind that. Huge money behind it. Bail bondsman money. People say, “Oh, it’s prison guards.” It’s so much deeper