by David Downs
Hundreds of California citizens allied with the state's booming medical cannabis industry outspent law enforcement establishment by a ratio of five to one during ongoing efforts to roll back at the ballot box 80 years of pot prohibition in the now-broke Golden State.
Campaign finance reports released Monday show Tax Cannabis 2010 received $176,430 in monetary contributions from this period, which covers April 1 to June 30, 2010, and also received $37,609 in non-monetary contributions for a total of $214,040. The drug law reform group has an ending cash balance of $61,933 after expenditures.
Oakland businessperson Richard Lee's Oaksterdam college chipped in at least $40,000 during the reporting period and total overall contributions from the cannabis school now total $1.46 million. Medical cannabis groups like Berkeley Patients Group and delivery service The CannyBus have donated funds. Jeff Wilcox and his marijuana cultivation corporation AgraMed, who pushed for cultivation permits in Oakland, donated to Prop 19 as well as councilmember Nancy Nadel, who gave $125. NORML's Dale Gieringer gave more than $10,000, while Men's Warehouse's George Zimmer added another $500 to his total contributions of $20,500.
The large volume of contributions came from hundreds of regular citizens across the state and country who are employed as teachers and engineers. One Stinson Beach, CA. resident listed his occupation as "alchemist".
Among Prop 19 expenditures, a large amount went to polling research. The federal government is collecting taxes on Tax Cannabis 2010's payroll, creating a situation where the government is in a way using tax profits to prosecute the people paying them. Around $1,400 went to Facebook and roughly $5,000 went to Google Adwords — part of Prop 19's ongoing digital campaign.
California's official law enforcement opposition to Prop 19, known as Public Safety First reported about $61,000 in contributions with just one citizen donor. The largest contributors: the California Police Chiefs Association, who gave $30,000 and the California Narcotics Officer's Association, who gave $20,000. Public Safety First's largest expenditure to date has gone to campaign consultants the Wayne Johnson Agency in Sacramento. They have about $18,000 cash on hand. A RAND Corporation study showed California would spend roughly $300 million less on law enforcement and incarceration if it stopped arresting 60,000 Californians for pot each year.
As previously reported, about $100,000 in new funds supporting Prop 19 has come from an East Coast libertarian who formed the Drug Policy Alliance Network Committee to Tax and Regulate Marijuana.
All other groups supporting and opposing Prop 19 did not e-file campaign finance reports, indicating negligible funds.
Prop 19 originator Lee has said it could take $10 million to wage an advertising campaign on behalf of the measure, which is polling at roughly 50-50. He recently told AlterNet fundraising for the campaign was "off-track", and that a one-on-one grass roots campaign would replace costly ad buys. For context, gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has reportedly spent over $100 million trying to defeat opponent Jerry Brown, much of it on costly TV advertising.