Gov. Jerry Brown on legalized marijuana: ‘How many people can get stoned and still have a great state?’

Updated at 8:45 a.m.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) went on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday to discuss his plans to run for an unprecedented fourth term, as well as many of the policy problems his administration is facing in the state.

"Meet the Press" host David Gregory asked Brown about the possibility of legalized recreational marijuana use in California, which Gregory described as an unthinkable prospect 40 years ago. Brown responded that he was watching Colorado and Washington — the two states currently have legalized recreational marijuana use — and that California's medical marijuana policies were "very close" to what these states are doing. "I'd really like those two states to show us how it's going to work," he said.


Two men share cannabis for medicinal purposes at the San Francisco Patients Co-op in San Francisco. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/ AP)

He also expressed worry about the "tendency to go to extremes."  After legalization, he said, "if there's advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world's pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."

A December 2013 Field Poll showed that a majority of Californians — 55 percent — approves legalizing marijuana use for the first time since pollsters began tracking opinions on this issue in 1969. Several groups have been collecting signatures for three legalization ballot measures this year, although the competing efforts have made fundraising for a 2014 vote difficult.

California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use in 1996, when 56 percent of voters approved Proposition 215.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said Proposition 216 was passed in 1996. Proposition 215 legalized medical marijuana in California in 1996. 

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.
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