An anti-marijuana legalization group founded by The Atlantic senior editor David Frum and former Rep. Patrick Kennedy is gearing up to do battle this November in five states that are considering legalizing the drug for recreational use.
Frum is a member of the “#NeverTrump” conservatives, who have vowed not to vote for Republican nominee Donald Trump even if that means electing Hillary Clinton. One argument for doing so is that Trump alienates potential Republican voters, including among millennials. However, on this issue, Frum and the millennials may be on opposite sites.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) — an outfit founded by Frum, Kennedy and former Obama administration drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet — has raised $2 million to fight what are already well-funded pro-legalization campaigns, including in California.
Much of the money raised by SAM will reportedly go toward battling California’s upcoming ballot measure, which has already secured at least $6.7 million in financial commitments, including more than $1 million from Facebook investor Sean Parker and the George Soros-backed Drug Policy Action organization.
If approved by voters, the measure would fully legalize marijuana and hemp in the state and would place a 15 percent tax on its sale, as well as a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves. State residents would be allowed to possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana and could grow up to six plants for personal use, while medical marijuana would be allowed some tax exemptions.
>Meanwhile, in California, the opposition to the measure — led mostly by state law enforcement groups under a committee called the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies — had raised less than $150,000 in financial commitments as of June 9. SAM’s fundraising haul could help the measure’s opponents counter what is sure to be a heavily-promoted pro-legalization campaign in the state.
Most law enforcement groups in California say legalizing marijuana would not make the state more safe, as legalization advocates have suggested.
“We are concerned that this proposition is bad public policy and does nothing to prevent advertising and marketing to children and teenagers near parks, community centers and child-centric businesses,” Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriff president Tom Dominguez told the Orange County Register this week. “It is a danger to our youth and the communities we have been sworn to protect.”
Proponents, however, say the measure would lead to a decrease in non-violent drug offense arrests, and could provide the state hundreds of million of dollars per year in tax revenue.
Some of SAM’s money will also be spent to stop legalization efforts in Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine and Arizona.
The state ballot measure come as the federal government readies a decision on reclassifying marijuana from its Schedule I status, or else “de-classifying” it off of its list of illegal substances altogether. A decision by the Drug Enforcement Administration was expected in July, but the agency missed its own self-imposed deadline.
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