Marijuana Legalization: California One Step Closer To Legalizing Recreational Weed Thanks To Billionaire Sean Parker

Marijuana legalization may happen for California in 2016.

Marijuana legalization in California has a really big supporter. Billionaire Sean Parker recently donated $500,000 to support an initiative to legalize recreational weed use in the state.

Parker spoke with Forbes late last year and noted he has been following the marijuana legalization issue for quite a while.

“It’s very encouraging to see a vibrant community of activists, many of whom have dedicated their lives to this issue, 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.”

The funds from Parker’s donation went to a committee named Californians To Control, Regulate, And Tax Adult Use Of Marijuana While Protecting Children. The committee is one of several groups promoting marijuana legalization in California.

So far, the group has raised over $1.25 million, including money from Drug Policy Action and New Approach PAC. The committee has also been given $250,000 from Californians for Sensible Reform, which has received substantial funding from WeedMaps, a website and mobile app that helps marijuana users find local dispensaries.

Sean Parker support California marijuana legalization.
California has a lot of incentive to make marijuana legal for recreational use.

The proposed California marijuana legalization initiative would allow adults 21 years or older to buy, use, and have up to one ounce of weed. The new law allows the state to charge a 15 percent sales tax, plus cultivation taxes as much as $9.25 per ounce of the plant.

Experts estimate that state and local tax revenues would increase by more than $1 billion. The money would go to fund substance abuse education and treatment programs, as well as additional law enforcement resources.

The California law still would not make the drug legal statewide. Just like Alaska’s marijuana legalization laws, local municipalities will have the final word on whether to allow pot sales within their jurisdictions.

Over five years ago, California voters shot down similar recreational weed legislation. Proposition 19 was put to a vote in 2010, but received very limited backing and failed to pass. In the 2016 elections, California may yet get another chance.

Last week, California’s state attorney general gave the approval to move forward on the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Now, a minimum of 365,880 petition signatures are needed for it to qualify for the upcoming 2016 general election in November.

Recreational weed use on the ballot in California.
According to ArcView Group, a data company that sells information to investors, says the national marijuana market stands to double should California authorize recreational weed. The group estimates current annual sales of legal marijuana at $2.7 billion.

The growth of the pot industry is attracting many investors and digital-age entrepreneurs.

Keith McCarty recently created a delivery service called Eaze that has many calling it the Uber for pot. Eaze does not sell or handle cannabis. Instead, medical marijuana patients use a smartphone app to place an order from a local marijuana dispensary. The dispensary then delivers the order to the buyer’s doorstep via a hired driver.

Eaze was started in July, 2014, and has since grown thanks to help from DCM Ventures, who invested $12.5 million in the startup. The San Francisco-based company currently has 50 employees and serves more than 85 cities, mostly in Southern California.

Two years ago, Isaac Dietrich and Tyler Knight created a social network specifically for recreational weed smokers. Since the launch of MassRoots, the social network has 625,000 current users and is expected to surpass one million in 2016.

According to a Sacramento Bee report, over 70 individuals and hedge funds have invested $3.5 million in the company. With help from these and other investors, Isaac hopes he can grow the company big enough to be “the first cannabis company” listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Sean Parker has been an active contributor to other initiatives than just marijuana legalization. In 2014, the former Facebook president gave $1 million to a committee supporting propositions to issue bonds for water infrastructure projects. The Parker Foundation, launched in mid-2015, set aside $600 million to fund projects related to life sciences, global health, and civic engagement.

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]