The cannabis legalization measure backed by Internet billionaire Sean Parker in California has been getting a lot of media attention, and for good reason. It seems to be the only legalization measure in the state — so far — that has substantial financial backing.
This was further proved last week when Sean Parker donated $500,000 of the $1.25 million listed as donations to the newly formed “Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana While Protecting Children” committee. Try saying that a few times fast.
Other donations came from political action committees formed by the Drug Policy Alliance and WeedMaps, as well as the heirs of Peter Lewis, the founder of Progressive Insurance and a longtime backer of legalization.
Experts estimate that it will take at least $10 million to run a successful legalization campaign in California, but it could take much more than that. A lot depends on how much money the opposition forces are going to muster. Let us not forget what casino magnate Sheldon Adelson did in Florida in 2014, almost single-handedly sinking the initiative. He could easily do the same thing in CA, making for a battle of the billionaire titans.
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act itself would allow those 21 years of age and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis legally with a home grow limit of 6 plants. Regulators in the state have estimated that the taxes — 15% on retail sales and taxes on cultivation of $9.25 an ounce for flowers and $2.75 an ounce for leaves — could bring in up to $1 billion a year to the state coffers.
Of all the legalization measures coming in 2016, California’s is the most important. The defeat of Prop 19 in 2010 still looms large over the state; it’s time to erase the memory of defeat with the freedom of victory.