On Friday, July 7 Bonnie Dumanis took her final walk through the Hall of Justice as District Attorney of San Diego County, having resigned 18 months before her term was over. Inside, she was applauded by longtime coworkers and friends, and she was given a ceremonial walk-out that led her to a vintage 1940 Ford painted as a police car of that era. Just steps away however, another scene unfolded.
The crowd was large, loud and accompanied by a New Orleans-style jazz band, creating a lively, celebratory atmosphere. Local activists and cannabis patients cheered the departure of the notoriously anti-cannabis District Attorney, and they let their feelings be known via signs and chants. Billed as the “Bonnie Bash,” the event was organized by the San Diego chapter of Americans for Safe Access.
“Cannabis tourism is a real and lucrative industry, and San Diego should take part in it. It is also important to me that we save law enforcement resources and taxpayer money by not wasting time and energy raiding and prosecuting legally operating cannabis businesses.”
Dumanis held the office of San Diego’s top prosecutor for 14 years, and because she stepped down before the end of her term, reportedly to explore the possibility of a run for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, veteran prosecutor Summer Stephan was appointed San Diego County’s Interim District Attorney. This appointment means that Stephan will be the incumbent on the ballot in 2018, when Dumanis would have been up for re-election. Many believe this to be a significant and unfair advantage, claiming that Dumanis has essentially handed the office to Stephan.
There is hope on the horizon for the citizens of San Diego who are concerned that Stephan will follow in Dumanis’ footsteps in regards to prosecuting cannabis offenses. Geneviéve Jones-Wright, a native San Diegan and Deputy Public Defender for the County of San Diego since 2006, has announced her intention to run for District Attorney. Jones-Wright shared her support for cannabis businesses in San Diego with CULTURE. “I believe that San Diego has a unique opportunity to increase tourism, job opportunities and revenue by becoming cannabis-friendly,” Jones-Wright said. “Cannabis tourism is a real and lucrative industry, and San Diego should take part in it. It is also important to me that we save law enforcement resources and taxpayer money by not wasting time and energy raiding and prosecuting legally operating cannabis businesses.”
Jones-Wright went on to explain that much of her platform is a result of the status quo is not working, and that the DA needs to prioritize violent and non-violent offenses differently. Jones-Wright believes that the “War on Drugs” has succeeded only in criminalizing communities. “The Trump administration, through Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has signaled a return to those failed policies that hurt our communities and cost taxpayer money,” she said. “Unfortunately, the actions of Bonnie Dumanis’ administration indicate a similar mindset. San Diego County can do better.”
Jones-Wright assured CULTURE that she is very interested in meeting with advocacy groups to address their concerns and learn from their experiences. In one short sentence, Jones-Wright said what cannabis advocates have been waiting to hear, and that is, “Prop. 64 was the will of the people of San Diego County, and I will uphold the law.”