If using and possessing marijuana, doctor's note or not, becomes legal in California, one man more than any other would be able to take credit: Medical cannabis entrepreneur Richard Lee, who owns a pot-business school in Los Angeles. He's been the main financial backer of the Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, the November ballot initiative that would, if approved, decriminalize weed for personal use and allow cities to approve or outlaw for-profit pot shops. Surprisingly, a recent profile of Lee discovered that the Golden State's number one pot proponent describes his political outlook as …
… “kind of conservative.”
“My parents are Republicans, and actually, I'm kind of a conservative,” Lee tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “You might call me a bit of a Libertarian. I think government is very wasteful, and for a lot of things, the free market can do better. So I guess you could say in some ways this was an unusual path for me.”
Lee was a 27-year-old rock 'n' roll roadie when he slipped while setting up lighting for an Aerosmith concert in New Jersey and ended up disabled (he now uses a wheelchair). He turned to marijuana to ease the pain but was chagrined to think he could be treated like a criminal for it. He eventually ended up working in a pot shop in Oakland and soon opened his own.
Lee's home base is his Coffeeshop Blue Sky in Oakland, which spun off Oaksterdam University and its L.A. sister campus. He says his businesses do $5 million a year in revenue but that he only takes home $50,000 of that. (Spoken like a true libertarian drug entrepreneur).
It looks like Lee will continue to pour money into the initiative. And he thinks it will win.