Was 2014 the last year where activist-led marijuana legalization?
The story focuses on Sean Parker, who is the founder of Napster and early investor in Facebook. He has made he decision to throw his considerable wealth at drafting a marijuana legalization initiative all his own.
That’s left longtime California legalization activists all over the place, some of whom had already put in well over 10 years worth of fighting for cannabis legalization by the time Sean Parker was born, just 28 days before 1980.
ReformCA was presumed to be the activist coalition to champion the legalization fight. Made up of veterans of the failed Proposition 19 campaign from 2010, ReformCA was to be the cautious, mainstream approach to legalizing marijuana in contrast to more extreme approaches, such as the biennially-proposed “Jack Herer Initiative” known as CCHI (California Cannabis Hemp Initiative), or the slightly less extreme MCLR (Marijuana Control, Legalization, & Revenue Act).
ReformCA built up the support of major California marijuana cultivators and medical marijuana associations, civil rights leaders like Ms. Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP as well as the big established legalization activist groups Americans for Safe Access (ASA), California NORML, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), and Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
Yet then MPP and DPA backed out of ReformCA. SF Weekly’s Chris Roberts also documents that the New Approach PAC, which financially backed Oregon’s legalization and is funded by the late Peter Lewis’ estate, is on board with Parker, as well as two Pritzker family Hyatt Hotel heirs.
That leaves ReformCA without the major funding they need, except for a few like Justin Hartfield of WeedMaps, who takes a seat on the National NORML’s and MPP’s boards. The difference would be that Sean Parker shows up as #268 on the Forbes 400 at $2.5 billion net worth, and Hartfield has not yet earned his third comma in his net worth.
Whatever initiative Parker moves forward with, it appears as if that would be the front-runner for California legalization, just based on the advantages using the power of money in politics. In just short of two weeks, ten wealthy financiers are set to pass marijuana legalization in Ohio that is as much a personal investment as it is a social reform. Billionaires in California are eyeing the world’s largest marijuana market and deciding they can create it themselves without the help of advocates or activist.
California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’ blue ribbon commission issued a report on how California legalization should progress forward. In it, his commission stated that marijuana legalization “should not be California’s next Gold Rush.” However unless the California Assembly puts forth a marijuana legalization proposition, any initiative battling for the 2016 ballot will need major amounts of financing, and those billionaires are seeing cannabis gold in those west coast hills.


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