Sean Parker jumps aboard CA pot campaign

Sean Parker jumps aboard CA pot campaign

Marijuana1One of Silicon Valley’s pro-marijuana giants has thrown his support behind one effort to legalize the drug in California next November.

Sean Parker, known for co-founding Napster and presiding over Facebook, announced that he would lend considerable financial backing — a rarity in the crowded field of legalization initiatives — to the so-called Adult Use of Marijuana Act. “The measure would allow adults 21 and over to buy and possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time, as well as marijuana-infused products, at licensed retail outlets,” the Associated Press reported. “They also would be allowed to grow up to six pot plants simultaneously for personal recreational use.”

Under the Act, the California Department of Consumer Affairs would regulate medial and recreational pot, added the wire service, with state and local sales taxes applied to the latter. “Pot cultivation would be taxed as well, at a rate of $9.25 for every ounce of dried buds and $2.75 an ounce for leaves. The initiative stipulates that all tax proceeds would go into a fund dedicated to marijuana oversight, including reports by the state auditor and by a public university on the implementation and effect of legalization.”

In a statement, Parker praised the diversity of pro-pot advocates in order to push them toward lining up behind the Act. “It’s very encouraging to see a vibrant community of activists … coming together around a sensible reform-based measure that protects children, gives law enforcement additional resources and establishes a strong regulatory framework for responsible adult use of marijuana — one that will yield economic benefits for all Californians,” he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Playing kingmaker

Rumors swirled late last month that Parker would jump into the Golden States’ weedstakes, with high-profile politicians holding off on choosing an initiative to support until he did. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has already begun rolling out policies under the aegis of his early campaign for the 2018 governor’s race, gave his stamp of approval to the Act in a statement of his own.

“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,” he said, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. “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.”

Thinning the herd

Newsom and Parker’s political relationship could make the difference in the tight competition among the 18 different groups filing legalization initiatives. “Newsom is close to Parker (he attended Parker’s high-profile wedding) and has gotten to know many of the other key players in the state’s cannabis movement during his time chairing the commission,” the Chronicle added. “He is seen as someone who can bring together the often-fractious cannabis community behind a single ballot measure.”

But Parker’s preferred initiative has so far failed to unite the pro-pot constituency and clear the field of competing choices. “If the initiative filed today by proponents associated with Sean Parker were the only cannabis reform initiative on the ballot, I would vote for it,” said Steve DeAngelo, Executive Director of Harborside Health Centers, in an emailed press release. “However, I think California can do better — and the language also filed today by longtime activist and cannabis attorney George Mull is closer to the mark.”

“It is much shorter and easily understood, firmly closes the door to Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol, and mandates more appropriate penalties for cannabis infractions. I continue to believe our best strategy for victory in November is bringing the entire cannabis community together behind one initiative, and call on all initiative proponents to work towards that goal.”

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