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Ex-Facebook President Sean Parker donates another $1.25 million to pot legalization campaign

Sean Parker at a charity event for Haitian earthquake victims in January at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Michael Tran / FilmMagic)
Sean Parker at a charity event for Haitian earthquake victims in January at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. (Michael Tran / FilmMagic)

Former Facebook President Sean Parker has put another $1.25 million into the campaign for Proposition 64, the initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California, bringing his total contributions so far to $2.5 million, according to records released Thursday.

The latest donation by the billionaire tech titan was reported to the secretary of state by the initiative campaign committee, Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana While Protecting Children.

If approved by voters Nov. 8, the ballot measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants. The measure would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.

Parker has emerged as the biggest donor to the campaign, which has raised $5 million so far, much of it spent on a petition drive to qualify the measure for the ballot.

A controversial figure, Parker left as Facebook's first president in 2005 after a cocaine-related arrest, even though he was not charged with a crime.

The opposition to the measure is led by the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies, which has raised about $125,000 from groups including the Assn. of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs State PAC and the Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Assn.

Wayne Johnson, the lead strategist for the campaign against Proposition 64, said that supporters including Parker expect to make money if the initiative passes, something a Parker representative denied. 

"Sean Parker didn’t make a contribution, he made a business investment that he expects to pay off," Johnson said. "And why shouldn’t it? The initiative practically eliminates his competition by decimating the medical marijuana provider network. This is strictly a big-business monopoly model that permits a single company to control growing, manufacturing and distribution."

Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the pro-legalization campaign, said the criticism is misplaced.

"[Parker] has no investment or interest in the marijuana industry nor any plans to enter it," Kinney said. "He's supportive because he is a social justice advocate. Like pretty much everything the opposition tries to throw at us, this is jello that doesn't stick."

Kinney also disputed that the measure would lead to a monopoly. “This measure was specifically and carefully written to protect small business, especially existing small operators who are abiding by the new regulatory framework created by the Governor and Legislature."

Meanwhile, Proposition 64 was opposed Thursday by the California District Attorneys Assn. in part for failing to “give prosecutors any standard by which to measure and convict drug-impaired drivers,” according to Mark Zahner, the group’s chief executive officer.

UPDATED at 3:10 pm to include opposition from prosecutors group.

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