Nearly four dozen people are in the running to become California’s next governor if voters recall Gavin Newsom in September. One of the candidates is a recent arrival to Napa with a clear-cut message – that the state’s legal cannabis industry can thrive only with a severe pruning of regulations she argues are strangling growers and sellers alike.
Jackie McGowan, a longtime stockbroker who switched to cannabis consulting and lobbying seven years ago, will appear on the lengthy list of candidates poised to take over if more than half of voters cast ballots against Newsom Sept. 14.
McGowan, a registered Democrat who moved to Napa from Livermore a month ago, seeks to battle what she calls an existential crisis in California’s legal cannabis market, which was boosted by the state’s 2016 legalization of non-medical sales but has battled high taxes, resistance from local governments and competition from the illegal market.
“I’m highlighting cannabis because we (in the industry) have been pushed aside for so long,” said the 46-year-old McGowan, who described herself as a now-disillusioned voter for Newsom during his successful 2018 election campaign. “This isn’t a game; this is literally life or death right now. The cannabis industry is in crisis, and it cannot be ignored any longer.”
In a Wednesday interview with the Napa Valley Register, McGowan, who spent 18 years in finance in Chicago and New York, promised to cut taxes for growers, distributors and retailers while pressuring cities still pushing back against the cannabis industry to legalize all adult-use sales – all in an effort to resuscitate a group of businesspeople she says Newsom first courted during his 2018 election campaign, then largely ignored.