A portion of California’s marijuana legalization machine made significant moves this week, when members of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, the group known as ReformCA, announced they were abandoning their original mission to join forces with a competing proposal backed by Sean Parker, the billionaire entrepreneur behind Napster and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.
On Tuesday, the rumors circulating for the past week were revealed as gospel when the majority of the board behind the ReformCA initiative made the decision to no longer pursue legalization through the “Control, Regulate, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016,” in order to get behind the financial powerhouse introduced last month by Parker.
Reports indicate that the group opted to jump aboard Parker’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” due to the struggle of securing the funds necessary to conduct a successful campaign of their own. Furthermore, the two competing proposals were similar enough in their language to warrant this alliance, perhaps preventing legalization from not happening at all in 2016 due to voter confusion.
“It would be a shame to come this far and fall short,” Newsom said last month.
An analysis of the two proposals shows five major differences in the areas of commercial and personal cultivation, taxation, product labeling and advertising. Higher taxes on retail sales and less personal grow space are all part of the Parker proposal, while it is also designed to help small businesses flourish in the marketplace through the implementation of a 5-year ceiling on commercial grow operations.
The real possibility of the group bringing legal weed to the Golden State began last week after Richard Lee, founder of Oaksterdam University and ReformCA board member, told Tom Angell with the Marijuana Majority that “the majority of the board is ready to endorse the Parker initiative.”
In addition to Lee, a press release specifies the deflected board members are: David Bronner, CEO of North America’s top-selling brand of natural soaps, Nate Bradley, Executive Director of the California Cannabis Industry Association, Stacia Cosner, Deputy Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Neil Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Antonio Gonzalez, President of the Latino Voters League and the William C. Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles.
Additional board members are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks. In fact, some sources claim the board will meet before the end of the year to officially withdraw the ReformCA initiative.
“We have carefully reviewed amendments submitted by the proponents of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, and we’re convinced it’s time to endorse that initiative and unite everyone behind a single, consensus measure to achieve a legal, regulated system, which a majority of voters have consistently said they want,” David Bronner, a board member, said in a statement.
The latest amendments to the Parker initiative, which were unveiled at the beginning of the week, incorporate safeguards for children, put control in the hands of local government, protect the workforce and prevent the possibility of monopolies.
An article published in the Sacramento Bee suggests that Parker and Newsom have been working together since the inception of the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” to create a “united front” in order to put a single solid proposal in front of voters when they head to the polls next year. As of last month, there were still as many as 10 competing proposals seeking a spot on the ballot in the November election. No word yet if the news of this latest development will have an impact on any of these group’s decision to continue moving forward.
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