Last week, Michael Goldstein, a 53-year-old progressive activist, was elected as one of two co-chairs to steer the newly formed Marijuana Offenses Oversight Committee. The committee was formed as part of a law that officially made marijuana infractions the lowest priority of law enforcement in San Francisco. Goldstein, former president of the HarveyMilk LGBT Democratic Club, said he became interested in San Francisco politics back in the late 1970s.
What do you see as the role of the Oversight Committee? I see the role as being fairly straightforward as the legislation was written. We are mandated to take testimony from various bodies that [implement] these [marijuana] laws — Police Department, district attorney, etc. — as to how various agencies are implementing the lowest priority policy for the city and county of San Francisco. Also [we take testimony] from individuals who have been arrested since these laws have been implemented. Finally, we are mandated to write a report and suggest policy changes to the Board of Supervisors and the Police Department as to how they can better implement this policy.
Where are we right now and where should we be, in regard to marijuana laws? I believe that marijuana or cannabis has been proven to be on the same level as alcohol and over-the-counter type of medications. I’m not looking at it totally as a medical issue. I’m looking at it also from the recreational point of view. As long as there is responsible use.
Do you use marijuana? Yes. I’ve testified to that fact. I have been both a recreational and medical user of marijuana.
Check out more 3-minute interviews from our San Francisco newsroom.