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Sean Parker Unveils California’s Latest Marijuana Initiative

Photo by Gracie Malley

Politics

Sean Parker Unveils California’s Latest Marijuana Initiative

A number of organizations are working to legalize a recreational cannabis industry in California next year, including one overseen by Sean Parker, the 25-year-old co-founder of Napster and former president of Facebook. An article published by the Los Angeles Times indicates that Parker revealed the full details of his proposal on Monday.

While the rumor mill speculated Parker’s involvement in a move to bring legal weed to the Golden State in 2016, all that was known up until now is that he was working with some political consultants to draft the language of major ballot measure. We now know that the proposal is called the “Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act,” and that it has somehow replaced the momentum behind another mega-measure supported by ReformCA that was once revered as the most highly anticipated initiative in California.

It seems that while a band of attorneys and consultants were busy drafting what will be the state’s 10th ballot measure, so far, bidding for a recreational cannabis trade, Parker was meeting with organizers of the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project in order to cleverly persuade them to jettison their relationship with ReformCA and pour all of the campaign funds into his effort. His sales pitch may have confirmed that powerful business owners like Nick and Joby Pritzker of Hyatt Hotels and WeedMaps founder Justin Hartfield have already kicked in millions of dollars to ensure that his campaign is the one that goes before the voters in next year’s election. Whatever line he fed them, they apparently bought into it wholeheartedly.

A report in SF Weekly suggests that both marijuana advocacy groups have removed the campaign funds intended to see the ReformCA initiative to fruition and have given Parker access to those resources instead. Earlier this year, Lynne Lyman, director of the Drug Policy Alliance of California, told Bloomberg that her organization had been raising funds for a 2016 initiative since fall of 2014. And while she was hesitant to say just how much money the group had already stored in its coffers, she predicted they would raise around $15 million before it was all said and done.

So, it stands to reason that without the DPA’s support, ReformCA could be in the financial gutter. And with other key investors likely to bet on Parker’s proposal instead, the group could be forever doomed. However, the word on the street is that Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who reportedly had a hand in Parker’s initiative, is working to find a way to get his group and the ReformCA folks to join forces in an effort to create a monster push for California legalization.

Last week, Newsom said that he was concerned that too many initiatives would make it confusing for voters to decide which marijuana proposal to support at the polls. It is for that reason that he is expected to try to get these two groups to work together before either campaigns launch into full swing in the coming months.

“It would be a shame to come this far and fall short,” Newsom said.

As for Parker’s initiative, it looks very similar to the ReformCA measure, only with a few minor differences in the areas of cultivation and taxes.

A summary of the proposal indicates there will be a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. However, while the recreational sector will also be charged the state’s sales tax, medical marijuana sales will not incur this charge. The proposal would allow people to cultivate up to 6 plants, as long as they remain “out of public view and secure from children.” It also gives state governments the right to ban outdoor grows, as well as gives employers the option of firing employees who test positive for non-medical marijuana.

Tax revenue would be stuck in a fund that would spend $10 million per year on studying the effects of legalization and $3 million to solve the stoned driving conundrum. By the way it looks, the rest of the tax money will go to pay for law enforcement, drug education and treatment programs and issues pertaining to the environment.

Will California legalize adult-use cannabis in 2016? Tell us what you think.

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