In an attempt to sabotage several well-funded campaigns aimed at ending marijuana prohibition across the nation, later this year, a gang of drug warriors headed up by former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy, has emerged with a war chest of more than $2 million that will be used to try to con the average citizen into voting against legalization ballot measures, including one in California, when they show up at the polls this November.
Although there has been very little noise throughout the first part of 2016 about opposing forces pouring mega-dollars into campaigns aimed at stopping marijuana legalization, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), which was founded by Kennedy; prohibition advocate Kevin Sabet; and David Frum, senior editor of The Atlantic, is planning to spend millions on fighting initiatives to legalize the leaf in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada.
SAM claims its mission to stop these marijuana proposals from becoming law is really about fighting against “Big Marijuana,” a system “which has consistently placed corporate profits and addiction ahead of public health,” according to its website. The group is concerned that, in legalizing marijuana, the nation is headed toward the creation of another tobacco industry, one that allows a few to get wealthy off the erosion of the American population.
“It is putting our children at risk and has exposed children from communities of color to more racial discrimination than before,” Kennedy, a nephew of former President John F Kennedy, told the LA Times.
But while SAM’s modest piggy bank is an admirable attempt at stopping the inevitable progress of cannabis reform in the United States, it is hardly impressive enough to strike fear into those standing on the front lines of the movement. That’s because even if the group plans to sink all of its money into combative measures to foul up California’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA),” an initiative that they, like the pro-pot groups, believe is important in the grand scheme of nationwide reform, it is still not enough dough to tackle the almost $7 million that has been raised, so far, by those who support the concept of bringing legal weed into the California mainstream.
Yet, SAM says it only intends to spend “a large share of the funding” in the Golden State – spreading the rest across four other areas.
California’s AUMA, also known as Proposition 64, which is supported by billionaire entrepreneur Sean Parker and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, would legalize a recreational cannabis industry in a manner that is similar to what is going on in Colorado and Washington. The initiative has drawn a significant amount of opposition, however — even from those who support legalization — because it comes policies that would restrict home cultivation while allowing people to still be arrested for certain marijuana-related offenses.
In a newly released ballot argument, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein suggests that legal weed in California would lead to more stoned driving accidents and an insurgence of retail pot stores going up near schools.
“Proposition 64 is an all-out assault on underprivileged neighborhoods already reeling from alcohol and drug addiction problems,” reads the opposition argument, which is signed by Feinstein and Doug Villars, president of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen.
But supporters argue that California’s liberal medical marijuana law is already allowing weed to be sold “nearly everywhere,” without the protections that the AUMA aims to provide.
As for SAM’s anti-legalization campaign, no one is sure where the $2 million came from. The organization did say that the contribution did not come from law enforcement or casino mogul Sheldon Anderson, who is infamous for pouring millions of dollars into preventing legalization.