California sits upon the precipice of two starkly different futures: one where tens of thousands of people are arrested each year for possession of cannabis, and one where it's legal for adults 21 and over to consume like alcohol. That California has come to this strange crossroads is significantly the work of Oakland businessman and activist Richard Lee. The 47-year-old Texas native has become a de facto town leader in downtown Oakland, where his half-dozen enterprises centered around medical cannabis — a dispensary, coffee shops, classrooms, and souvenir shops — pump vital funds into the neglected area. He's also bankrolled the highly watched, $1.3-million-and-growing ballot initiative, Prop 19, which will go to voters this November. A libertarian thinker, the shy, former concert-lighting technician suspects that a perfect storm of deficits and a costly unworkable drug war will trigger a voter revolt. Covered the world over by seemingly every major newspaper, magazine, web site, and radio show, Lee hasn't let his 100,000 Facebook fans go to his head. He speaks out like he wished justice didn't need him. Whether or not he succeeds, his activism has already spread out around the world.
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