Sean Parker initiative ignites California marijuana legalization
By David Downs on November 2, 2015 at 2:59 PM
Billionaire technology and music industry disruptor Sean Parker upended another sector this afternoon, with the release of a new initiative to legalize marijuana in California in 2016.
Parker’s proposal — called the Control, Regulate, and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act — calls for ending cannabis prohibition in California, and allowing folks to possess up to one ounce of bud and grow up to six plants. Cities would have wide latitude on cannabis commerce, but couldn’t ban small, secure personal indoor gardens.
The proposal upends the 2016 playing field for California reformers. Parker’s wealth is the first substantial amount of funds to be moved into play in the 2016 race. Drug Policy Alliance and Marijuana Policy Project are reportedly backing the Parker proposal. That leaves other camps far out of the running for lack of funds — including the post-Prop 19 coalition ReformCA, as well as group behind the MCLR.
The full measure also received enthusiastic support from respected social-justice and industry organizations.
“This initiative provides a model for the country,” stated Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It breaks new ground not just with its pragmatic regulatory provisions but also in directing tax revenue to prevention and treatment for young people, environmental protections and job creation in underserved communities.”
“California voters are ready to end marijuana prohibition in 2016 and replace it with a more sensible system,” stated Rob Kampia, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “That is exactly what this initiative will do, and that is why MPP is proud to support it. We look forward to working with the proponents and doing whatever we can to help pass this measure and make history in California next year.”
About a half-dozen groups have filed ballot language, which costs $200 and signifies little. Millions of dollars must be spent to gather several hundred thousand valid signatures by a state deadline, then run a potentially polarizing campaign against a united conservative right, and a fractured, bickering far left. About 53 percent of Californians support legalization in theory. The details could drag those numbers down.
Over in Ohio, another set of profit-minded liberals are set to forfeit their legalization funds this week. Ohio’s Issue 3 to legalize pot is polling at 46-46, and has been dragged down by similar forces as could emerge in California.
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who chaired a Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy, of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, supported the measure, which was filed today by official proponents, Dr. Donald O. Lyman, MD, and Michael Sutton — a doctor and an environmentalist:
“I am pleased that this thoughtful measure is aligned with the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations, and presents California its best opportunity to improve the status quo by making marijuana difficult for kids to access. It is backed by the broadest coalition of supporters to date and I believe that Californians will rally behind this consensus measure, which also serves to strengthen law enforcement, respect local preferences, protect public health and public safety, and restore the environment.”
Official filer Sutton is a longtime conservationist and environmental attorney, and former President of the California Fish and Game Commission, and former Vice President of the National Audubon Society.
“The physician community and the people of California in general have increasingly voiced support for ending marijuana prohibition and bringing greater control, oversight and consumer protections to our marijuana policies,” stated Dr. Lyman, author of the California Medical Association’s 2011 Background Paper on Marijuana. “This is the most comprehensive and carefully-crafted measure ever introduced to control, regulate and tax responsible adult-use of marijuana anywhere in America – and it will make California healthier, make our streets and communities safer and better protect our children.”
“A regulated and reliable framework of marijuana policy will bring illicit cultivation out of the shadows and allow us to protect and restore California’s precious land, water and wildlife,” stated Sutton, who also founded the Marine Stewardship Council while at World Wildlife Fund. “It’s good for the environment, good for our water supply and good for natural resources.”
Paul Warshaw, CEO of GreenRush, a patient-centered cannabis delivery platform celebrated the news.
“California is home to dozens of world-class industries, now including a cannabis sector that is growing exponentially more professional, varied, and profitable. The state’s cannabis industry is certainly complimented by it’s other leading technology and investment sectors – we’re seeing leaders like Sean Parker and others stepping forward to advocate for rational cannabis regulation and reform.”
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The California Cannabis Industry Association also supports the Parker proposal.
“CCIA is pleased to join a diverse group of stakeholders in support of this initiative, which will bring sensible adult-use laws and regulations to California’s cannabis industry,” said CCIA president Sean Luse, in a statement. “This initiative represents the collective voice of California’s lawful medical cannabis industry.”
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act will lay atop California’s new statewide medical cannabis regulations, while streamlining some of them, stated CCIA general counsel Khurshid Khoja. “No legislation is perfect, but we believe the initiative will benefit patients, taxpayers and the legal marijuana industry.”
California is positioning itself as a national and global leader in legal cannabis, after decades of it as a major part of the underground economy.
“Our hope is this initiative will pave the way for California to take
its rightful place as the center of the cannabis economy,” stated CCIA executive director Nate Bradley. “California has long been the leader in technology, the environment and entertainment. This initiative lays the foundation for marijuana to become California’s next great industry — with all the jobs, tax revenue and economic growth that come with a productive new industry.”
A number of groups have signed onto the initiative with letters of support, including: The Nature Conservancy, Audubon California, California Council of Land Trusts, California Native Plant Society, California State Parks Foundation, California Trout, California Urban Stream Partnership, Defenders of Wildlife, Endangered Habitats League, Pacific Forest Trust, Trout Unlimited and Trust for Public Land.
“The environmental provisions of the Adult Use Act will represent a major step forward in protecting California’s rich natural resources in the future,” stated the Nature Conservancy in an October 29, 2015 letter.
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