Known for creating Napster and being the first president of Facebook, tech billionaire Sean Parker is now lending a hand to the campaign to legalize cannabis in California.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the organization leading the campaign, announced in an email to supporters that Parker will match every donation made to the California chapter.
Mason Tvert, the Communications Director of MPP, shared his reaction to Parker’s generosity,
“We’re very excited about the generosity he’s shown. This is someone who wants to see marijuana prohibition end and helped bring a lot of folks together, and now he’s putting his money where his mouth is.”
All donations, which can be for any amount but will not be tax deductible, will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Parker. With California having the world’s eighth largest economy, the total cost of cannabis legalization could reach $20 million. Tvert pointed out that this fundraising effort will be crucial for taking the next steps towards legalization,
“This is going to be a very large and very expensive campaign and so I believe we really need to raise as much money possible to ensure we get it done this coming year.”
Parker is no stranger to philanthropic donations, as he has previously contributed to research funds for conditions like cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. Recognizing that cannabis prohibition does more harm than good, Parker is now contributing to the initiative in California.
With 700,000 people arrested each year on non-violent marijuana charges in the United States, issues such as drug law reform and eliminating mass incarceration are gaining support from a new generation of activists.
According to Marijuana Law and Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance Amanda Reiman,
“This younger generation of activists — many millennials, many entertainers — are feeling less stigma about coming out about this issue. It’s safer. Folks our age care about this stuff — some just happen to have billions of dollars.”
San Francisco attorney Matt Kumin, received the MPP email last week and shared his thoughts.
“The more people contribute to it, the more it gains support. You start to generate grassroots enthusiasm when you get them involved in fundraising,”
he said. “There are things in this initiative I like and don’t like, but if California votes 60% for legalizing cannabis — you can affect the pace of change in the rest of the country.”
While the generous donations from Parker do not guarantee that legalization will become a reality in California, it will likely have a powerful impact the future of the initiative.
Click HERE to donate now.
photo credit: Stanford
The most recent report from the Department of Revenue revealed that March 2015 was another record breaking month for retail marijuana sales in Colorado.
In January, consumers purchased roughly $36.4 million of recreational cannabis from Colorado retail shops. In February, that number climbed to $39.1 million. Continuing the trend, reported recreational marijuana sales reached more than $42.7 million in March.
The data from the Department of Revenue mirrors the growing trend seen in medical marijuana as well. Medicinal pot sales totaled nearly $32 million in March, which was more than $2 million higher than sales in February. This number compares to the record set in February of 2014 when $36 million was sold.
The record-high sales for recreational marijuana in March come with an incredibly positive contribution to the community, as the excise tax placed on wholesale marijuana transfers brought in nearly $2.6 million for school construction capital.
In 2014, monthly taxes never topped $2 million, in Colorado nor anywhere else. Already this year, more than $7 million has been raised through the excise tax on recreational marijuana.
Mason Tvert, director of the Marijuana Policy Project and legalization advocate, says the record-high sales come as no surprise. He elaborated,
“Consumers are becoming more comfortable with a regulated market. They’re more familiar with it, and that’s reflected in their behavior.”
“For quite some time last year, no stores were open in many parts of the state, and we’ve seen these businesses open their doors and begin to establish themselves, and people are now aware of them. It’s becoming a more normal behavior.”
These sales figures reflect the ease of convenience for consumers, as they no longer need to find marijuana illegally but instead purchase it in regulated markets.
The first ever cannabis symposium in Aspen, CO wrapped up Sunday after a weekend of cannabis culture, lifestyle, business and community at the Sky Hotel. Industry enthusiasts and professionals came together with law and science at the Cannabis Grand Cru to discuss the importance of foundation in this newly budding industry.
The intimate setting inspired a sense of unity, encouraging a laid-back vibe of positivity and hope throughout the entire event where the speakers and panelists were approachable, and just as excited as the attendees. This is a group of not-so-average looking, free thinking, educated and experienced enthusiasts and professionals of all ages who are playing key roles in the establishment of a new, more impressive cannabis culture that steers clear of the stoner stereotype, without trying to glamorize the industry.
The whole event was bigger than just legalization. It was about education and ideas for policy reform with an unintentional focus on what is best for the industry in terms of sustainability and the big picture. The cannabis industry is still in stages of infancy, and this like-minded group realizes they are building it from the ground floor.
Listed below are four things that I learned from attending the inaugural Cannabis Grand Cru.
1. Everyone wants to eliminate the stoner stereotype.
The stoner stereotype, exemplified by Sean Penn’s character Jeff Spicoli in the 1982 film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High has been associated with cannabis use for decades, but that just is not a realistic picture of cannabis users today. Not every person who uses the plant can be identified by looks, profession, race, or gender, and it is important that the world erase that negative perception from memory in order to move forward. Plenty of professional, extremely successful people use cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes. Many of the United States report greater than sixty percent of the population having used cannabis at least once, while the lowest reported was still forty percent of the population. There is so much more to this cannabis culture that is finally able to come out because it is no longer being forced underground. In the future, there will be no stereotypical cannabis user because this culture sees no barriers.
2. Soon enough, scientists will be able to design and breed your ideal cannabis plant.
Have you ever wished you could combine qualities from one plant with qualities of another to make your ideal cannabis strain? That may be a reality in the future because evolutionary biologist and cannabis genetics expert, Dr. Daniela Vergara, has teamed up with evolutional biologist, Dr. Nolan Kane to study the genetic make-up of the cannabis plant at Colorado University, Boulder. The genetic DNA of more commonly grown cash-crops like corn, rice and wheat are already charted, but this information has not been properly developed for cannabis. The work of these two evolutionary biologists will identify which chromosome is responsible for which displayed plant traits from the height, shape, and color of the plant and flowers all the way to which chromosome is responsible for creating feelings of euphoria, body tingling, dry-mouth, etc. in users. This will revolutionize cannabis breeding, and create the opportunity to isolate the desired chromosomes from the ones less desired by consumers in all realms medicinal, recreational, and industrial. This will especially be a huge breakthrough in the world of medicinal uses because plants will be able to be tailored to treat each specific medical condition.
3. Cannabis-culture language and branding will play a defining role in the cannabis-culture shift.
This sizable sample of cannabis industry enthusiasts and professionals are equally aware, perhaps even unintentionally, of the importance of appropriately representing the emergence of a culture being reborn. A noticeable shift in language was observed in the presentations, panels and seiminars of the weekend, as well as in attendee conversation. For example, people used words like ‘medicate’ and ‘consumption,’ rather than the widely known term ‘getting high’ when referring to using all forms of cannabis. It is important to convey the real spirit of the plant to move forward, rather than continue using terms coined during the Reefer-Madness era. This is demonstrated in emerging words like cannatrade and canna-consumers, as well as the conscious effort being made to use the plant’s real name, Cannabis, in place of derogatory slang like pot and weed.
A focus on shifting cannabis branding down a more mature path was also apparent throughout the symposium as discussions and brainstorming sessions were lead on ways to shift street culture from the negative stoner-stereotype to the all-encompassing, boundary-less possibilities of the future. For example, cannabis product and accessory packaging and marketing is being steered more towards professional and even boutique, and further away from the days of plastic baggies. My only hope is that the good-word being spoken by these brave men and women who have only the best of interests at heart are heard before the likes of Big Pharma flank them with a hostile takeover.
4. Cannabis unites people from all walks of life.
The ages of people united by the first Cannabis Grand Cru spanned decades, and all generations were well-represented. There were people from all ages dressed in all possible attire, from sharp and classy in business suites all the way to comfortable and practical in ski pants and hoodies. Both retired and active law-enforcement was represented through the nearly seventy-year-old, retired Pitkin County Sheriff friend of Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Braudis, and the wise Joe DiSalvo, current Pitkin County Sheriff. Professional athletes were also personified in world champion mountain biker and panelist, Miles Rockwell, who has a felony record for cannabis cultivation, and also in attendance was Adam Lavender, the professional mountain biker who suffered a paralyzing spinal chord injury during a downhill race. Pro-cannabis advocates like John Hunt of Grimey Gatsby and Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project also graced the conference with their well-spoken, educated articulation of thought in participation with dispensary owners from Denver’s Wellspring Collective and Aspen’s own Silverpeak Apothecary. Younger representatives emerged to personify the new frontier of advocacy in the MassRoots and Cannabis Commodities Exchange teams.
Those named above do not even begin to scratch the surface on the impressive roster of symposium participants, but it does demonstrate how the cannabis culture knows no boundaries. Cannabis is one of the only common pleasures shared among people of all ages, race, religion, gender, profession and background, and may be even be a symbol of hope for a future of unity and coexistence in the world.