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Thanks, Sean Parker: Calif. Prop 64 Outraising Opponents 60-to-1

September 14, 2016
Sean Parker, Chairman of of Causes and a Managing Partner, Founder's Fund, speaks at Web. 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. Parker was co-founder of Napster. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
As polls indicate a widening lead for Proposition 64, California’s adult-use legalization initiative, public disclosure documents reveal an immense 60-to-1 advantage for proponents in the funding race. As of September 1, advocates for Prop 64 have raised $11,752,943. Opponents have reported only $229,385.

That funding advantage seems to be paying off, as the most recent poll shows Prop 64 leading, 71 percent in favor to 26 percent opposed.

A scan of the campaign financing database reveals some interesting names. Napster founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker heads the money list, with $2,316,579 donated to the initiative. Drug Policy Action, the PAC arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, has donated $1.75 million to the cause.  The Drug Policy Alliance, an educational nonprofit organization run by Ethan Nadelmann, has been supported over the years by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, among others.

Prop 64’s opponents, so far, are limited to one group: No on Prop. 64, sponsored by the California Public Safety Institute. The group has amassed $229,385 in the fight to keep cannabis illegal. The California Public Safety Institute is a group founded by John Lovell, a Sacramento-based lobbyist who does a lot of work on behalf of law enforcement unions and trade associations.

A majority of the contributions to Lovell’s group were made by individuals, organizations and associations relating to law enforcement. Also contributing to the effort to stop legalization were Kevin Sabet’s group Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) and the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council. SAM Action and the California Teamsters Council were the two top donors, with both combining to donate around $90,000. The California State Sheriff’s Association, and the California  Association of Highway Patrolmen also donated to the opposition, with the sheriffs group donating  $10,000 and the highway patrolmen kicking in $12,500.

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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