Marijuana Industry Donating to Candidates

We’ve said before that that any effort to legalize marijuana is going to bring unintended consequences. One of those consequences, apparently, is campaign contributions.

According to the Associated Press, members of the marijuana industry are already funneling big dollars into campaigns for marijuana-friendly candidates and ballot measures. One marijuana store owner in Denver, Colorado, was quoted as saying, “There isn’t a week that goes by where we don’t make a political donation.”

Efforts to legalize marijuana at the ballot box are seeing millions of dollars for their campaigns. Colorado’s congressional delegation has received $20,000 from marijuana advocates. Marijuana Policy Project–the group that bankrolled the 2012 effort to legalize “medical” marijuana in Arkansas–plans to give roughly $150,000 to federal candidates around the nation as well.

A looming question that remains unanswered amid all this: What will the marijuana industry do if the U.S. Attorney General decides to enforce the federal laws against marijuana? 

Under federal law, it is still 100% illegal to grow, possess, or use marijuana anywhere in the country–including states like Colorado, Washington, and California. So how are people able to grow and use marijuana in these states? The U.S. Attorney General opted not to prosecute anyone “complying with state laws” on the matter. Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, and Attorney General Holder’s Department of Justice opted not to prosecute anyone opening a marijuana farm or marijuana store in that state. To put it another way, the Attorney General is ignoring the law.

Last week Attorney General Holder announced his resignation. He will remain in office until his successor is confirmed. Whoever that person is, he or she will have a choice: Continue letting the nation’s drug laws go completely unenforced in states like Colorado, or take on an industry that appears to be slowly working to elect candidates who share its views on marijuana.

Marijuana Supporters Will Gather Signatures for 2016 Ballot

Arkansans for Responsible medicine, the same Arkansas group that pushed to legalize marijuana in 2012 and 2014, has secured approval to begin gathering signatures to place a similar measure on the ballot in 2016.

The group says they plan to launch their 2016 petition drive at a picnic in North Little Rock on September 6. The same group failed by 30,000 votes in the November 2012 election. This year they were short of the 62,000 signatures needed to place the measure on the 2014 ballot.

In 2012 the group received over $750,000, mostly from out-of-state marijuana interests. In 2014 they received little funding, so they were unable to pay large numbers of canvassers to gather signatures.

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Lack of Signatures Shows a Lack of Public Support for Marijuana

The following press release was received from Family Council Action Committee.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 7, 2014

On Monday, proponents of an effort to legalize marijuana announced they did not have enough signatures to place their measure on the ballot for the upcoming November General Election.

Family Council Action Committee President Jerry Cox released a statement, saying, “We are pleased to learn Arkansans have rejected the legalization of marijuana once again. Voters made a decision on that issue two years ago. The fact that the measure failed to get enough signatures to make it to the ballot tells me Arkansans are standing by that decision.”

Cox said placing a measure on the ballot by way of a petition drive is a very difficult process that requires a lot of support from across the state. “Since 1984 I have conducted five successful volunteer-based petition drives to place measures on the ballot. The key is public support. If you don’t have public support, you’re going to have a hard time getting your measure on the ballot and approved by the voters. The fact they were not able to get the signatures they needed shows Arkansans do not think marijuana ought to be legalized.”

Cox said his group will continue to monitor any future efforts to legalize marijuana in Arkansas.

Family Council Action Committee is a conservative 501(c)(4) organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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