Here’s a look at who’s supporting Prop. 64, who’s fighting it and some of the key reasons they’re giving for their positions. Pictured: A childproof exit bag sits on the counter of The Colfax Pot Shop while a customer runs around the corner to use the ATM to pay for their purchase on April 25, 2016. (Vince Chandler, The Denver Post)

California’s Prop. 64: Who’s backing it, who’s fighting it and why?

Supporters of Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana for Californians 21 and older, have raised 15 times more money than opponents.

Definitive guide to marijuana on the 2016 ballot: Recreational & medical initiatives

But high-profile Republicans and Democrats, health professionals and educators, law enforcement and religious leaders continue to come down on both sides of the controversial issue.

Here’s a look at who’s supporting Prop. 64, who’s fighting it and some of the key reasons they’re giving for their positions.


The official Yes on 64 campaign has raised more than $15 million, with another $4 million sitting in funds for supporting committees.

The campaign has spent $11.3 million, per the latest report filed Sept. 29, with $6.5 million spent on TV and radio ads now airing.

Major funding has come from New Approach PAC, which is a legacy of Progressive insurance mogul Peter Lewis; advocacy group Drug Policy Action, with funding from billionaire George Soros; and Irvine-based Weedmaps.

But roughly half of the measure’s money has come from one man: Sean Parker.

The Silicon Valley billionaire who co-founded Napster and was instrumental in Facebook’s early days hasn’t commented on why he supports the measure. But a campaign spokesman insists it’s a moral rather than financial issue for Parker.

“He has zero interest in the marijuana industry and he never will,” spokesman Jason Kinney said. “He cares about social justice.”

That’s a cause frequently cited by Prop. 64 backers, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa. Both men have also argued that the measure will replace failed prohibition with a safe, regulated system.

Dozens of organizations have endorsed the measure, including the California Medical Association and United Farm Workers. So have editorial boards for some of the state’s largest newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and San Jose Mercury News.

Other key arguments from proponents include the potential to generate new tax revenue, curtail the black market and boost local control.


The No on 64 campaign has raised more than $1 million and spent nearly half of it, including $50,000 on TV ads.

Some contributions have come from local law enforcement groups and individual residents.

But more than $900,000 or 82 percent of the fundraising total has come from Smart Approaches to Marijuana or SAM, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that fights marijuana legalization across the country. And all of SAM’s money has come from one woman: Julie Schauer.

Online records show Schauer is a retired East Coast art professor who manages a family trust apparently linked to her father’s days as a banker. She hasn’t done interviews about her opposition to Prop. 64, though social media posts indicate she believes marijuana can be linked to violence and mental illness.

A lack of adequate protections for kids and drivers is a key argument cited by Prop. 64 opponents, including elected leaders such as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and public safety officials such as Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckus.

There also has been resistance from some medical marijuana advocates and entrepreneurs who are concerned with how Prop. 64 will upset the current system and perhaps open the door for big corporations down the road.

They’re joined by dozens of organizations opposing the measure, including AAA of Southern California and the California Hospital Association. And they’re backed by newspapers such as the Sacramento Bee and Bakersfield Californian.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7963 or or on Twitter @JournoBrooke

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