Monday, May 3, 2010

TaxCann 2010 Flush, Opponents Low On Dough

By David Downs
Mon, May 3, 2010 at 10:13 AM

The November ballot initiative to tax and regulate cannabis for personal use received more than $200,000 in campaign contributions between January 1, 2010 and March 31, according to newly published electronic campaign finance records. All groups opposed to the measure — like the Committee Against the Legalization of Marijuana — failed to electronically file their contributions by the April 15 deadline, indicating that they did not raise at least $50,000, the minimum contribution amount that triggers mandatory e-filing. This may be good news for reformers.

Tax Cannabis 2010 raised $212,647.88 from several dozen donors, with large donations coming from places like Oaksterdam University and other businesses owned by or associated with Tax Cannabis 2010 organizer Richard Lee. The campaign spent $184,668 on election expenses like buying radio airtime for commercials. The campaign had $55,576 in cash at the end of the reporting period.

Lee has said the campaign could need $10 to $20 million to fund campaign advertising and win in November. Putting up more than $200,000 while opponents report nothing is an early indication the campaign still has some steam, but a lot more funds will have to come in.

Opposition to the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, CALM (Committee Against Legalizing Marijuana), and Public Safety First did not electronically file.

Neither did two groups supporting the measure, Yes We Cannabis and the Drug Policy Alliance Network Committee to Tax and Regulate Marijuana. Insiders say the drug policy alliance exhausted its war chest for funding initiatives after it spent millions supporting last year's initiative to decrease punishments for drug users. That measure got stomped by voters.

Tax Cannabis 2010 initiative still appears to be Richard Lee's one-man show. As expected, the badly damaged economy forced both opposition groups and pot's natural friends like the drug policy alliance to the sidelines this year — yielding the field to Lee's Tax Cannabis 2010. More analysis later in the week.

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