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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Marijuana Legalization Advocates Jump Ship, Back "Sean Parker" Measure

Posted By on Tue, Dec 8, 2015 at 1:23 PM

click to enlarge Looking better and better. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Looking better and better.
Despite a lack of Sean Parker — and a most certain lack of his money — the "Adult Use of Marijuana Act," a marijuana legalization initiative proposed for the Nov. 2016 California ballot, has become known as the "Parker initiative." (Parker, long rumored to be interested in bankrolling a ballot measure to legalize cannabis, because apparently that's what billionaires do, has voiced support for the measure, but has not formally lent his name to anything.) 

And the "Parker Initiative" has also become known as the frontrunner among the ten or so proposed legalization initiatives with the best chance to qualify for the ballot and actually be before voters next year, in large part because of that imprimatur, however informal (and tenuous).

That frontrunner status appears to have been further cemented after six board members from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, which had submitted its own legalization measure, announced Monday that they have jumped ship and are backing Parker (or his people, anyway, who have also submitted some changes to their proposal).

This means that the oft-fractious marijuana movement-cum-industry is showing signs of coalescing. Always bet on the billionaire, folks.

The "Parker Initiative"-slash-AUMA is late to the party. The Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform earlier this year introduced its Reform California initiative, which if passed would legalize cannabis in a similar but different way.

An effort led by veterans of 2010's Prop. 19, which lost 46.5 percent no to 53.5 percent yes in part because of a near-total lack of funding until the 11th hour (and in greater part because of interference from the federal government),

Reform California has struggled to raise money and did not win endorsements from influential drug reform groups like the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project (both of which used the Prop. 19 momentum to legalize cannabis in other states, including Washington, Oregon, and Colorado).

Instead, both DPA and MPP came out in support of the AUMA when it was announced last month. Following suit before Thanksgiving was Prop. 19 sponsor Richard Lee, a CCPR board member,
click to enlarge Richard Lee
  • Richard Lee
who also endorsed AUMA, as first reported by Marijuana.com's Tom Angell.

Joining him earlier this week are fellow CCPR board members David Bronner, CEO of the eponymous Bronner's Magic Soaps; Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of drug reform-minded former police; Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Association; Antonio Gonzalez, the president of the Latino Voters League; and Stacia Cosner, deputy director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the group announced in a press release.

That's six out of the CCPR's 14 board members. 

On top of that, Dr. Larry Bedard, a former president of the American College of Emergency Physicians and a co-sponsor of Reform California's measure, announced to the Attorney General's Office that he, too, has jumped ship and backed Parker.

That leaves California NORML Executive Director Dale Gieringer, Reform CA Chairwoman Dale Sky Jones, and California NAACP President Alice Huffman as Reform CA's holdouts. Neither Dale responded to a request for comment from SF Weekly, but as recently as last month, Gieringer was insisting publicly that a "compromise measure" could be found.

This, now, appears to be it.

Keep in mind that all political observers feel that multiple legalization measures on the same ballot is a recipe for disaster — but also keep in mind that no legalization measure had a shot at collecting the $15 million needed to qualify a measure for a ballot and then run a successful campaign without the likes of DPA, MPP, and their wealthy backers on board.

DPA uses money from the estate of the late Peter Lewis, while MPP is funded by the nascent but growing cannabis industry.
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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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