California Campaign Watchdog Fines Legal Marijuana Opponents

By Associated Press

CALIFORNIA: California’s campaign watchdog said Monday that it is proposing fines of nearly $10,000 against opponents of the state’s new recreational marijuana law for violations last year.

The Fair Political Practices Commission announced the actions against two campaign committees that unsuccessfully fought Proposition 64. About 57 percent of voters approved legalizing recreational pot in November.

The first state ballot measure committee, Public and Mental Health Advocates Against 64, agreed to a $3,500 fine for being slow to change its advertising disclosures to publicly identify nonprofit SAM Action Inc. as a donor that contributed more than $50,000.

SAM Action’s contributions reached $64,150 in late June, but weren’t properly disclosed until the watchdog commission’s staff complained about two weeks before the election. By that time the committee had already posted billboards and aired internet radio advertising in English and television ads in Spanish.

The commission’s staff said there was no evidence the committee attempted to conceal SAM Action’s involvement.

The second group, A Committee Against Proposition 64 with Help from Citizens, agreed to pay $6,000 for several violations including being late in filing a Top 10 list of contributors after it raised $1 million.

The commission said the nonprofit committee’s staff was unfamiliar with California’s campaign laws when it failed to report receiving $1,364,000 in donations from a trust fund set up by Pennsylvania activist Juliet F. Schauer, a retired art professor.

The fines will be considered by commissioners on April 20.

“They come in and they threaten you with big fines or you can settle for a little one. It’s in the rearview mirror,” said Wayne Johnson, a consultant with the No on 64 campaign.


Anti-Legalization Group Calls For Medical Marijuana Research Overhaul

In a groundbreaking move for a group of its kind, a leading organization opposed to marijuana legalization released a report Thursday that seeks a major overhaul of marijuana research in the United States, calling on the federal government to recognize the medical value of cannabis.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), co-founder of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, called his group’s research recommendations a “third way,” positioning them between the concepts of legalization — which the group continues to oppose — and full prohibition, on a call Thursday.

While calling full legalization of marijuana “dangerous,” Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of SAM, also said that “there are so many things the government could do to offer the seriously ill experimental medications” and help to further marijuana research to potentially unlock its medical potential, without legalizing the plant.

America’s Drug Companies Are Bankrolling The Crusade Against Legal Weed

As more U.S. states legalize marijuana, special interest groups that have a financial stake in the fight have been pushing back under the guise of fighting drug abuse.

Last week, The Nation published an interesting look at who’s driving the fight against the legalization of marijuana.

Pharmaceutical companies that make billions off painkillers and police unions are two big heavy hitters in the fight against marijuana legalization. They throw their monetary support behind groups that fight legislation that would legalize pot — even medical marijuana — and lobby Congress.

From The Nation:

It’s more than a little odd that [the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America] and the other groups leading the fight against relaxing marijuana laws, including the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America), derive a significant portion of their budget from opioid manufacturers and other pharmaceutical companies. According to critics, this funding has shaped the organization’s policy goals: CADCA takes a softer approach toward prescription-drug abuse, limiting its advocacy to a call for more educational programs, and has failed to join the efforts to change prescription guidelines in order to curb abuse. In contrast, CADCA and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids have adopted a hard-line approach to marijuana, opposing even limited legalization and supporting increased police powers.