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Longtime California Activist Richard Lee Endorses Sean Parker’s Marijuana Legalization Initiative


richard lee oaksterdamRichard Lee isn’t in the spotlight as much as he used to be. I first learned about Richard Lee when I saw him on national television talking about his dispensary and Oaksterdam University. It was awhile ago, so I don’t remember which news outlet it was on, but I will always remember Richard Lee’s passion for all things cannabis. In the video he showed the news anchor different types of cannabis, and was very patient and polite when she asked very dumb questions. Again, this was awhile ago, so the tongue-in-cheek comments were much more prevalent at the time.

This blog was created in 2010, the same year that Richard Lee ponied up a ton of his own money to be the main funder behind California Proposition 19. Proposition 19 wasn’t the first legalization effort in American history, but it is one that I use to measure marijuana reform. Proposition 19, despite its defeat in 2010 in California, ushered in a new era of marijuana politics. Just two years after Proposition 19 changed the conversation surrounding marijuana legalization, two states (Colorado and Washington) voted to legalize marijuana. Two years after that, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. joined the list of legalizers.

Sadly, California was unable to get on the ballot in 2012 and 2014. Getting an initiative, any initiative, on the ballot in California is expensive and takes a lot of resources. In 2012 and 2014 resources were spread too thin in California, with many legalization initiative efforts competing against each other. 2016 is setting up to be the biggest year in marijuana legalization history, with California being the focal point. Like usual, there are many efforts in California to get a legalization initiative on the ballot. Last I heard there were 10 of them.

One of them is getting a lot of buzz because of the massive amount of money backing it. The initiative is commonly referred to as the ‘Sean Parker marijuana legalization initiative’ since it’s main supporter is Sean Parker who co-founded Napster and was a very early investor in Facebook. That effort received a very significant endorsement yesterday, via an article on Marijuana.Com by the always hardworking Tom Angell. Per Tom’s article:

A well-funded effort to legalize marijuana in California in 2016 just received a surprise endorsement from a key longtime movement player.

Marijuana.com has exclusively learned that Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University and the chief proponent of an earlier legalization measure that Golden State voters narrowly defeated in 2010, is endorsing the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), an effort backed by a group of Silicon Valley funders led by Napster co-founder and early Facebook investor Sean Parker.

“It’s important that we all get together to support one initiative,” Lee said in an interview.

I receive a lot of flack for supporting AUMA, mainly from the other campaigns in California, which is fine. Like I tell everyone that e-mails, texts, or sends me messages on social media, yes, I do support AUMA, just as I support every other effort in California to legalize marijuana. They are all noble causes worthy of support. However, I’m a realist, and I’ve been around politics (marijuana and non-marijuana) long enough to know that some efforts have the resources to get on the ballot, and others don’t.

Like Russ Belville always says, the best initiative is the one that will win, and considering how many efforts in California won’t realistically make the ballot, let alone have enough resources to run what will be the most expensive marijuana campaign in marijuana politics history, I would like to see everyone in California get behind one initiative. It doesn’t have to be AUMA, but it does need to involve an initiative that has the treasure chest it will take to win on Election Day 2016.

I’m sure Richard Lee will receive some negative feedback for his endorsement, but I understand what he is saying. California is the biggest domino of them all, and while seeing a handful of other states legalize on Election Day 2016 will be absolutely fantastic, it won’t be as awesome as seeing them do it along with California. 2016 is a window of opportunity that may not come around again for a long time in California, if ever again. Now is the time to end marijuana prohibition in California, whether it be via AUMA, or a different initiative. I just really hope that fracturing doesn’t lead to defeat in California, as it has done in the last couple of election cycles.


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Johnny Green


  1. you’ve made no point outside of a prohibitionist argument. just like you did by comparing cannabis to alcohol, which only stupid people and prohibitionists do.

  2. sure, you can possess up to an ounce, but you must keep it to yourself. again you miss the obvious problem, that any amount is all that is needed to qualify for a distribution charge. you put a lot of effort into ignoring what you dont want to face.

  3. various? try to name enough alcohol offenses to get to various.

    aside from that, you are still missing the big point that there is no cogent reason for cannabis to be illegal in the first place, and to criminalize people for it is unjust. can you say the same for alcohol? your arguments are nonsense and you come off like an idiot.

  4. Thanks for the link. From there:

    “1 oz or less (private possession/consumption) ——
    No Criminal Penalty”

    Legalization is sweet.

  5. People still go to jail for various alcohol offenses. – Does that mean we don’t have legalization of alcohol?

  6. Nonsense. – Let me know when you want to attempt to refute any points. Your empty whining means nothing.

  7. get relevant with the issue or get lost. you’ve provided nothing of substance or even attempted to address any points i’ve raised, even editing a comment to make it appear less incriminating after i’ve shown how your argument is self defeating.

    your version of ‘legalization’ still puts people in jail and seizes their money and property. thats simply prohibition.

  8. After California and some others join the Free States next November, the crumbling fraud of the federal prohibition will collapse soon after – as soon as 2017.

  9. Only the few greedy growers will oppose any (and all) legalization initiatives. We know you don’t want to give up your quasi-monopolies and outrageous prices. – But make a new plan, Stan.

    After California and a few others join the Free States next November, the crumbling fraud of the federal prohibition will collapse under its own dead weight.

    Then, the end of the prohibition ‘premium’ and economies of scale will bring the prices down to less than $50 an ounce.

    It’s just a plant.

  10. Of course my experience in the various Washington state recreational marijuana stores is totally germane. Any honest people who have been there will confirm the happiness of consumers.

    You know home-growing is coming, yet you still whine about it like it’s gone forever. How absurd.

    You should have to go live in Oklahoma or Mississippi or any of the other 20 or so states that are far from getting legalized. THEN you would know what prohibition is.

    Further, nothing is cast in stone. We will continue to refine marijuana policy until it reaches its optimum form as we did with alcohol after ending ITS prohibition.

  11. >>>” you wont be allowed to pass a joint in your own home”


    Negative naybobs of negativism noxiously need a nap.

    What part of the sky is falling, Chicken Little, so we can try and spot it? – None of the dire predictions you whined about before I-502 came to pass. – Washington marijuana consumers are crazy with happiness having escaped prohibition.

    Russ Belville is the most knowledgeable, hardest-working, effective marijuana reformer on the planet. Having been in reform for 18 years, I can vouch for him.

    Any who try to throw dirt on him only get it all back in their clueless face, showing how corrupt or ignorant they are.

  12. when the new law in WA goes into full effect in July 2016, as an MMJ patient, what i can still do legally today will be a felony. you wont be allowed to pass a joint in your own home without committing another felony. these are the new laws that Russ supported, and his support in OH would have still put people in jail for growing their own.

    if i were in it for the money, why would i want people to be allowed to produce for themselves? your first clue that you are completely wrong on this issue is that you agree with a moron like Russ.

  13. Absolute nonsense, of course. Russ Belville’s voice is one of the few un-tainted voices out there. – He stands in the corner of marijuana consumers, as I do.

    You stand with the greedy growers who are taking advantage of the dollars signs in so many eyes.

  14. meaningless anecdotal experiences from the periphery aside, thank you for making the point that this is just another form of prohibition. as to the timetable promised, i’m sure all those who’ve paid for this legislation are eager to relinquish their control of the manufacture and sale of cannabis sometime ‘soon’.

    so, if these corporate legal persons are allowed to mass produce and sell cannabis, why do i go to jail if i provide for myself? you are buying into a corrupt system that continues to perpetuate the injustices of prohibition. your political progress is nothing more than feet shuffling and ending up in the same place. the time is long past to stop criminalizing people and ruining their lives for wanting to have access to cannabis.

  15. No. Washington state doesn’t have home growing yet. (They will soon). Consumers there don’t feel they are in a prohibition. I was there recently, and they are wildly happy.

  16. anything which prohibits a persons right to grow for themselves is prohibition and is not fit for legislation.

  17. The growing arrangements of Issue 3 were minor (meaning NOT the main issue) and temporary, only lasting until the soon-to-arrive national marijuana market.

    The money is where you divide activists, all right. You divide those who are real marijuana reformers from those who are just trying to carve out a piece of the economic pie – no matter who has to suffer.

    Real marijuana reformers, consumers, and the public know the growing arrangements are secondary and temporary. Nothing is ever carved in stone. We will continue to refine marijuana policy until it reaches its optimum form, just like we did with alcohol after ending ITS prohibition.

    Consumer freedom trumps everything – most especially who makes money from growing. After seeing greed cause so much destruction to reform, I would be thrilled now to have selling marijuana illegal for anyone and everyone. – Just government grows and home-grows.

    Greed has turned many “inside” the movement into traitors.

  18. Legal Templates Info on

    Aside from all the lobbyists and activists driving this movement forward, federal legalization hangs in the balance with the changes in state policy and leadership. As we watch more states being added to the list of legalization, we set out to answer how long could this possibly last and what factors affect whether a state legalizes or not https://goo.gl/mslGoM

  19. On top of it most consumers want a competitive industry. The consumers in California have an array of availability and very cheap prices, both in the MMJ and black market. If it’s written too overtaxed and overregulated, most people will not buy from the limited billionaire monopoly storefronts and instead find it cheaper, easier, and more morally acceptable to keep buying it the old way (many people aren’t going to want to further enrich selected greedy billionaires). I hope “veteran marijuana reformers” like yourself don’t get too disappointed if the “non-veteran reformers” don’t end up uniting because they think you’ve sold out to big buck$.

  20. I know you’ve been all over Retard Russ’ talking points, but he is wrong on many issues. His word isn’t the word of the Marijuana God. While big money is inevitable, there is a chance in most industries for the little guy to compete, like in the alcohol industry. The way the wording was in Ohio would offer no chance for the little guy to compete. While most initiatives aren’t written as poorly as Ohio’s, many are being written that makes it with too much red tape or outright removes the little guy from having any chance in the industry, and this is where you will divide activists. Who gets to grow it DOES matter, many people want a chance in the industry, not just a few greedy billionaires who are writing these laws, otherwise it is not truly legalization. Especially with the restrictions on personal home growing, which should have 0 restrictions.

  21. Nonsense. – It was a repeat of 2004, when the corruption in Ohio helped steal the election for Bush. And there was much intentional confusion sown by the corrupt legislature and election officials.

    Polls show support for Issue 3 was 52 to 56 percent the day before the election.
    The ballot language was extremely, dishonest (criminal?) and deceptive, almost demanding a negative vote of all who had not been following the issue.

    It was both a ballot box theft and a deliberate misinforming of the populace. Combined with the major marijuana reform organizations turning their backs on Ohio’s marijuana consumers, it is the lowest moment of marijuana reform history.

  22. You are apparently not a veteran marijuana reformer. Those of us who have been at it a long time have always known the big money would take over the industry at some point. – This is America, remember? – It’s actually a GOOD sign that they do. It means we have reached that level of progress.

    Who grows it is not important, as long as there is home-growing. The QUICK end of the war on marijuana consumers is the prize and is all that matters now. Ohio’s Issue 3 would have done that, and whichever California Initiative wins will do that.

    Greedy growers like you are a BIG part of the problem.

  23. Lucky California is getting another restrictive legalization initiative to enrich a few billionaires. Hooray! It looks like these bastards learned nothing from Ohio and think people will be eager to vote just because it says “legalize”. They scream to “unite”, except they won’t “unite” everybody’s ideas, only “uniting” your ideals with what the billionaires want. The ultimate form of propaganda and doublespeak.

  24. There wasn’t any other marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot, there was just Issue 2. People rejected Issue 3 because they didn’t like the language of the ballot, not because there was a competing initiative.

  25. The best initiative is the one that has the best chance of passing. And it will have the best chance if no other initiatives are on the ballot. We will continue to improve whatever one wins.

  26. Closet Warrior on

    An initiative I can get behind is the CGA- Citazen’s Grow Act- Very inexpensive, very effective. Everybody gets some seeds and grows them. Once the land is covered w/all her glory and flowers then it would be damn near impossible to do anything about it.

  27. Rich just like Anthony Johnson did in Oregon … Beware it’s all about the government making all of the money ..

  28. One of the big flaws with the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is that it allows local jurisdictions (city and county governments) to functionally ban personal cultivation – whereas the Reform CA initiative, as well as the CCHI provide consumers with wider latitude for personal cultivation.

    Personal cultivation is a hinge issue because restricting who can grow cannabis effectively imposes supply (and thus pricing) restrictions. In a state where people can choose whether to grow their own OR purchase from their local retail store, prices are kept in check.

    The second big flaw in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is the possession limits. They are way too low. Again, turn to the Reform CA or CCHI initiatives for a much better model. Low possession limits invites the local police/sheriffs to enforce cannabis regulations and under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) the cops WILL continue to conduct raids and arrests. Not on the billionaires, of course – just on all the ordinary citizens who will be voting for this initiative.

    At the very least, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) needs to be amended to remove the ability of local jurisdictions from having ANY involvement (regulations, licensing, inspections, permits, taxes, etc.) over personal grows, and it needs to increase the amounts of personal possession significantly.

    Sad to say that the the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is the least consumer-friendly initiative presented so far, and yet because of funding it is also the most likely to succeed.

  29. ReformCA deserves to lead, but they need to get over it and unite with the Parker group. Nothing is ever cast in stone. We will continue to refine marijuana policy until it reaches its optimum form, just as we did with alcohol after ending ITS prohibition. – The important thing is to catch the wave of the reform movement now – and win!

    It’s not just for Californians. It’s for the country and world. – Free California will knock the stuffing out of the fraudulent federal prohibition.

    It’s clear we must unite behind one initiative. More than one would confuse the voters and the petition process. We just saw what confusion (intentional by corrupt officials) caused in Ohio with their initiative.

  30. Legal Templates Info on

    You are right! Great information here. There are many initiative going on ballots in 2016 which means some big changes could be on the horizon for many states. We have invested some reasons why some states have had an easier time than others when it comes to legalization along with some points to look out for in the future. Feel free to check it out: https://goo.gl/mslGoM

  31. Zaccheus Abraham on

    Certainly Dale Sky Jones, who is pushing the Reform CA initiative, must be devastated, since she and Lee appear to be close. However, This Is The Big One. Lee is right: we ALL NEED TO BE BEHIND ONE INITIATIVE. Abraham Lincoln said it right: you cannot please all the people all the time. Thus, while one initiative or another may contain elements that an individual supporter of the cause might like, the most important feature of any initiative (consistent with Russ Belville’s view) is that it WIN. Since AUMA appears to be the one, I will be supporting it, and not the others. (Even though there are others I would personally MUCH prefer.)

  32. There also needs to be a generous home grow provision (equivalent to 200 gallons of beer a year) in order to keep everyone honest. You want prices low enough to not encourage too much homegrown. So you can
    collect taxes. Homegrown is untaxed. That allows for several different strains in case you have some one with a medical need.

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