Attempts to end cannabis prohibition in California became much stronger this week since competing ballot measures merged behind the stronger one. The ballot is now supported by Sean Parker, billionaire and former president of Facebook, Inc. Also, the ballot has been supported by Gavin Newsom, Democratic Lieutenant Governor, as well as the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform. Antonio Gonzalez, board member of the Coalition and president of the Latino Voters League, stated that the coalition withdrew its initiative once Parker’s measure was revised to help children, laborers, and small businesses.
Efforts have now ended weeks of behind-the-scenes debates with goals at closing the holes between the two ballots because of concerns that neither would succeed if they were both on the ballot for 2016. Cannabis use is still illegal under federal law in the United States, but over 23 states allow marijuana for medical purposes. In addition, Colorado, Washington and Oregon have legalized recreational use and Alaska is on track to do so next year.
In Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona, voters may see ballot initiatives in 2016 with the purpose to legalize cannabis. In California, amendments filed this week to Parker’s proposal would allow for local governments to have more of a role in where marijuana can be sold, tightening child protection, and banning marketing to minors and explicit warning labels on cannabis products, and finally, need safety standards for those who work within the industry.
According to proponents, legalization would raise hundreds of million of dollars by taxing both marijuana and its cultivation. California has the biggest marketplace for medical marijuana sales in the country, IBIS World states. They also state that nationally, medical and recreational cannabis is projected to generate $3.6 billion in revenue in 2015 and grow up to $13.4 billion up to 2020.