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Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said he supports the legalization of marijuana in California.

In a New York Times article about the fading stigma of the drug in the Golden State, Newsom told the New York Times' Adam Nagourney, "These laws just don't make sense anymore. It's time for politicians to come out of the closet on this."

Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco who challenged Jerry Brown for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2010, is the highest-ranking state official to endorse legalization of marijuana.

Under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state passed laws lowering penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana, making possession of less than an ounce similar to a routine traffic violation.

In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which authorized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. But state voters narrowly rejected a measure in 2010 an initiative to decriminalize the drug.