Despite the big bucks, the measure failed that year. But the state’s green tax base continued to grow. By 2015, California had 50,000 pot farms in the state and a legal medical marijuana industry worth $815 million. The next year, big pro-pot spenders including Soros and former Facebook President Sean Parker threw $16 million into support for Prop 64, another ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. This time it won.
Meanwhile, a company called Weedmaps was also a prominent backer for both Props 19 and 64. The self-described medical marijuana company has created a database of over 3,000 dispensaries of medicinal pot. The app and website feature more than 950 cannabis strains and a proximity locator using Google Maps. It claims nearly 2 million monthly visitors and $1.5 million in monthly revenue.
Is all this pot really for medicinal use? Justin Hartfield, Weedmaps’ founder, raises doubts. He started Weedmaps in 2007 as a 23-year-old computer science graduate from the University of California, Irvine. Hartfield told The Wall Street Journal that the following summer he leveraged his real problem with insomnia to gain access to medical marijuana for recreational purposes. He called California’s medical marijuana system “a total farce.”