The momentum behind Prop. 64, California’s best-ever shot at legalizing recreational cannabis for adults, continues to build. Over the weekend, the state’s two biggest newspapers endorsed the measure — a flip-flop from six years ago — and the effort continues to rack up enormous checks from its political benefactors.
The campaign to convince state voters to say yes to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act has recorded more then $14 million in contributions, according to the most-recent campaign finance reports. Leading the way, as he has all along, is tech billionaire Sean Parker, the single-biggest contributor with more than $7.2 million in contributions recorded.
Other sizable contributions have come from the Drug Policy Alliance, George Soros’s Fund For Policy Reform, and the New Approach PAC, run by an associate of the late Progressive Auto Insurance chairman Peter Lewis.
All that money means the campaign can buy television ads and spread its message to Spanish speakers and other waffling voters — like the millions and millions of suburban types in Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego counties, the types of folks the Prop. 19 effort in 2010 had trouble convincing.
They may be easier sells now that the state’s two biggest newspapers have come on board. Endorsements of Prop. 64 have come from the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times — the latter of which has earned a reputation as staunchly anti-pot over the years.
This is a “huge shift,” the Times noted, brought on by a better-drafted measure — but really, this was already waiting to happen. In 2010, 46 percent of Californians voted for Prop. 19, which received no major endorsements, no major funding, and was even on the receiving end of federal interference when Department of Justice officials threatened city officials who might have implemented legal weed with prosecution.
None of that is happening this time around, which makes the newspapers’ jobs easier. The papers also appeared to appreciate Prop. 64’s strict controls, specifics on how much cannabis should be taxed, and rules like banning smoking in cars and in public. (Much of that is borrowed from the successful legalization measures in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon.)
Prop. 64 proposes to allow all adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of cannabis flower — and four grams of concentrates — and grow up to six plants in their homes. The rules and regulations of Prop. 215 would remain intact, medical patients could continue to grow more and use cannabis beginning at 18, or younger via an adult caregiver. Prop. 64 also reduces the penalty for many cannabis-related crimes, and specifically allows for commercial cannabis activity, with a licensing structure similar to the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last year.
As for the governor himself? He’s still silent on Prop. 64, leaving Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom as the measure’s most influential sponsor. But all that money is talking, and talking loud.
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