Business

Sean Parker's Marijuana Legalization Proposal in California Takes Center Stage

Sean Parker
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images 

Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster Inc., photographed on Jan. 27, 2012. 

Whether it's founding Napster, guiding Facebook or investing in Spotify, Sean Parker has developed a reputation for pushing change forward, and now he's at the forefront of California's marijuana legalization movement. This week a competing proposal from the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR) was folded into Parker's, making his the leading ballot measure, by default, for 2016 in a state with the largest medical marijuana market in the country.

CCPR withdrew its own petition following negotiations between Parker's team and that group in order to resolve fears that having competing proposals on the same ballot would cause both to fail. Reports say that modifications to Parker's proposal included tougher government oversight about where marijuana can be sold, language prohibiting advertising targeted towards minors, warning labels and protections for industry workers, small businesses and children.

Medical marijuana is legal in the state, and a legalization bill was voted down in 2010. Since then, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska residents have all voted to legalize marijuana in their states despite a federal ban. Advocates point to the potential for millions of dollars in tax revenue; Colorado, for example, made $11.6 million dollars in taxes, licenses and fees in September alone, an increase of 61.2 percent over the same period last year. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has backed Parker's proposal.

IBIS World, a global business research group, estimates that the marijuana industry -- both medical and recreational -- could generate $3.6 billion this year, with revenue projected to more than triple over the next five years. California isn't the only state pushing to join the legalization party -- Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan and Nevada are also expected to have proposals on the ballot in 2016.

As Parker runs down the legal channels, more and more musicians are looking to profit from the weed business, medical and not: Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, Willie Nelson, Nick Lachey, Melissa Etheridge and Kurupt are just a few of the artists getting into the industry.