Campaigns supporting and opposing marijuana ballot measures are filling up airwaves and social media feeds with political advertisements in the run-up to the midterm elections.
From Utah to Michigan, battles to convince the electorate via video advertisements to vote one way or the other on cannabis-related initiatives are heating up.
Here’s a roundup of ads you can find on TV and the internet as competing camps work to get out the vote in the four states with recreational or medical legalization up for consideration on Election Day.
The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol also produced a series of ads focusing on the safeguards that a regulated cannabis system creates, the economic benefits of legalization and the positive impact of a legal marijuana marketplace on criminal justice.
But in this ad, anti-legalization Healthy and Productive Michigan president Scott Greenlee falsely conflates active impairment from marijuana with the presence of cannabis metabolites in drug tests.
The group also created an ad fear-mongering about the risks that the legalization of cannabis edibles poses to young people.
Dr. Brad Bradshaw, the main supporter of Missouri’s Amendment 3, released a video touting his credentials and arguing that a vote “yes” means supporting cancer research. (The video is not embeddable, but you can view it here).
A campaign committee in support for Amendment 3 also released several attack ads on Amendment 2, including the fact that it allows patients to cultivate their own medicine at home. (These videos are also not embeddable. You can view them here).
“Personal freedom and criminal justice reform are at the heart of Measure 3,” a pro-legalization ad states. “On November 6, let’s exercise our rights and vote ‘yes’ to legalize recreational marijuana.”
Drug Safe Utah, an anti-legalization committee, released an ad indicating that the group was sympathetic to efforts to legalize cannabis for medical use—but that the legalization proposal at hand goes “too far.” (The video is not embeddable, but you can view it here.)
It’s likely that pro- and anti-legalization camps in Utah would have funded more ads ahead of Election Day—but competing campaigns effectively reached a ceasefire in light of a proposed legislative compromise deal that lawmakers are expected to consider soon after November 6, regardless of whether the ballot measure is approved by voters.
Voters in 16 counties and two cities in Wisconsin will have the chance to voice their opinion on marijuana legalization in November—in the form of non-binding advisory questions that could help inform future legislation. The pro-reform advocacy group Forever Wisconsin released an ad recently that delivers a short and sweet message to prospective voters:
Major late contributions are flowing into the coffers of Michigan and Missouri political action committees that have been set up to support or oppose marijuana ballot initiatives in those states, Marijuana Moment’s latest analysis of campaign finance data shows.
In Michigan, the two largest marijuana initiative committees have seen a quarter-million dollars in contributions in just the last three days since quarter three figures were filed on Friday. The pro-legalization Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol officially reported a $25,000 donation that had been announced last week by the Drug Policy Alliance. Washington, D.C.-based New Approach PAC donated an additional $58,650 to the committee over the weekend, bringing their October contributions to over $300,000.
Meanwhile, the largest committee working against the initiative, Healthy and Productive Michigan, is reporting a sizable new contribution of $75,000 from national prohibition organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which has already provided over $1 million in cash and in-kind services to the effort. The prohibitionist committee also reported $100,000 from Dow Chemical Corporation.
DTE Energy executives continued to weigh in against the initiative, with David Meador, vice chairman of DTE Energy, and David Ruud, president of DTE Power & Industrial, each giving $2,500 to the anti-legalization committee. The group had already reported a total of $70,000 in donations from DTE Energy Chairman Gerard Anderson, company President and COO Jerry Norcia, DTE Electric President Trevor Lauer and DTE Gas President Mark Stiers.
In total, Healthy and Productive Michigan has racked up $310,000 in late contributions since October 20, while the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has brought in $151,150. For each committee, these new donations in the last nine days equal about one-third of their total cash previously raised in all of quarter three (August 20 – October 20).
In Missouri, physician Bradley Bradshaw continues to pour money in the Find the Cures PAC in support of Amendment 3. For October, since filing quarter three reports, Find the Cures reports $343,000 in cash contributions from Bradshaw. He had contributed $7,500 in cash in quarter three, and also provided $186,121 in loans. Find the Cures is also getting late support from legal firms, with five outfits contributing $45,000 in October.
Missourians For Patient Care, which supports Proposition C, has reported $105,289 in contributions in several “48 Hour Reports of Contribution Received Over $5,000” in October, but the source of the largest of those contributions is not specified, and they have not yet filed a report due by the end of Monday, eight days before the election.
A committee set up to combat Bradshaw’s Measure 3, Patients Against Bradshaw Amendment Formally Known As Find The Cures Political Action Committee, reported only $757 in contributions in a filing made on Monday.
Additional reports are due in Missouri by the close of business on Monday, and we will provide updates on those as they are filed.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
New quarterly campaign finance documents from Missouri medical marijuana ballot committees, covering activity from July 1 to September 30, show some coalescing of support for one of three measures on the ballot, while a recently created committee that opposes all of the medical cannabis options has yet to report any financial support.
Here’s what the fundraising and expenditures for the key committees behind each of the three proposed measures look like:
(Note: only those committees with major activity in Q3 are displayed)
Missouri has one of the most confusing sets of marijuana ballot options to ever go before voters in any state, with two proposed constitutional amendments and one proposed statutory measure to choose from. Each option was sponsored by a separate committee that actively attacked the others in the months leading up to qualifying this summer to get on the ballot, with hostile campaign tactics continuing since then—including lawsuits and opposition research into the personal finances of advocates.
In the last few months, two additional organizations entered the fray. One is the only ballot committee that opposes both of the amendments and the proposition. Citizens for SAFE Medicine registered on September 20, and did not report any financial contributions or expenditures on its October 15 report. Judy Brooks, listed as Treasurer of the organization, is also a founder of Jefferson City’s Council For Drug Free Youth.
The other is “Patients Against Bradshaw Amendment Formally Known As Find The Cures Political Action Committee.” The committee, which registered August 27, opposes Amendment 3 and supports Amendment 2. It raised $1,441 cash from five donors, and has spent $447 of that on campaigning.
Its verbose name is a reference to Dr. Brad Bradshaw, the main financial contributor to Find the Cures, a committee that registered in September 2015 to support the measure now designated as Amendment 3. Between October 2017 and June 2018, he provided loans to Find the Cures to the tune of $1.2 million. The committee spent over $800,000 of that to hire a signature collection firm to get on the ballot.
Bradshaw’s measure would, among other things, create a research center that many suspect he intends to run himself. It had already come under fire from Missouri NORML, which backs New Approach Missouri and its preferred proposal, Amendment 2. Find the Cures had already raised $1,556,705 in the first half of 2018 (much of that in the loans from Bradshaw), but started the most recent quarter with just $79 in the bank. From July through September, the committee took in another $209,111, with $186,121 of that in the form of additional loans from Bradshaw. It spent $164,739 on advertising and campaign staff, leaving $44,451 cash on hand for the remaining weeks before the election.
Under Amendment 2, doctors would be allowed to recommend medical cannabis for any condition they feel it is needed. Registered patients and caregivers would be permitted to grow up to six marijuana plants and purchase up to four ounces from dispensaries per month. Medical cannabis sales at dispensaries would be taxed at four percent. As previously reported by Marijuana Moment, the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP, Freedom Incorporated and the St. Louis American newspaper support Amendment 2. It also recently garnered an endorsement from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
New Approach Missouri was the most active committee in terms of continuing to raise and spend funds in quarter three of 2018. The group, which had already raised $1,057,263 for the election, took in another $256,924 cash and $15,368 worth of in-kind contributions. They spent $229,122 in the quarter, for events, legal fees, database management, media creation and public affairs in support of Amendment 2. One employee has been paid a total of $116,180 over the course of the campaign. They had $39,878 in the bank at the end of September.
Long-time political action committee Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, which has been around for seven years, had little activity last quarter, bringing in $350 and spending $72, leaving $2,250 on hand. It has however seemingly thrown its support behind New Approach Missouri, providing $5,000 in in-kind support to the committee.
Here’s a chart using a logarithmic scale that includes more of the committees, even those with relatively paltry finances:
(Note: scale is logarithmic in order to depict smaller committees)
Missourians for Patient Care, which supports Proposition C, had little money activity in the most recent reporting period, suggesting that it is perhaps stepping back from active campaigning at this point. The group had raised a whopping $1,393,360 in 2018, but had only $31,077 left on hand at the beginning of July. In the last three months, it brought in $115 and reported no expenses.
One additional committee that formed, “Missouri Medical Marijuana,” that supported “medical marijuana measure,” has terminated its operations.
On Election Day, we will see whether the millions of dollars spent result in Missouri voters enacting one of more of the cannabis ballot proposals.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Next month, voters in seven states will get the chance to approve or reject a number of far-reaching marijuana proposals. But one thing many people don’t realize is that you don’t have to wait until November 6 to make your voice heard: many states allow for early or absentee voting, and people across the country are already voting on cannabis initiatives today, as you read this.
Before getting into the specifics, an important aside about voter registration deadlines: They’re coming up hot. You can check your state’s registration deadline here.
OK, back to early voting on cannabis. Marijuana Moment compiled a list of each major state and local marijuana-related initiative that will appear on ballots. They range widely—from proposals to fully legalize cannabis in Michigan to amending the definition of industrial hemp in Colorado—and some will only go before voters in specific cities or counties.
There’s a lot of information to review before heading to the polls, but fortunately, there’s still about a month to go.
But for those who are eager to make their votes count sooner rather than later, many places with cannabis questions provide ways to cast your ballot early via mail or in-person before Election Day.
Here’s when early or absentee voting starts in states where marijuana will be on the ballot:
*A county clerk “must begin issuing mail ballots to any eligible elector who requests one in person at the county clerk’s office” by this date. Otherwise, mail ballots will be sent to voters between October 15 and 22.
*Non-military Michigan voters must qualify for absentee voting. Individuals must either be over 60 years old, unable to vote without assistance, planning to be out of town on Election Day, in jail awaiting trial, have a conflicting religious event or have been appointed to work “as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.”
*Missouri voters must qualify for absentee voting. Individuals must either be physically incapable to vote due to illness or disability, planning to be out of town on Election Day, in jail awaiting trial, have a conflicting religious event, have been appointed to work an election official or currently involved in a confidentiality program due to safety concerns.
Absentee voting begins: For military and oversees residents, mail-in ballots will be sent out by September 22. Other mail-in ballots will be sent out by October 16. Absentee ballot applications must be submitted by October 30.
Early voting begins: October 23*
*Be sure to check your county’s early voting poll dates here.
*The bulk of Wisconsin municipalities allow for early voting starting September 22, but there’s no statewide timeline so check with your municipal clerk to confirm. The University of Wisconsin maintains a list of updated early voting dates here.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
While all three measures seek to establish regulated medical cannabis systems in the state, two are proposed constitutional amendments and the third would be a statutory amendment. In Missouri, the top vote-getter generally prevails.
But in this case, if votes for the statutory amendment exceed those for either of the constitutional measures—and one of the constitutional measures also passes—the fate of Missouri’s medical marijuana law could be left up to the courts.
The stakes are high for each sponsoring advocacy group to avoid vote splitting. If a sufficient number of voters go to the polls and only support their favored approach while voting against the other two, it could end up being the case that no measure garners majority support.
But just days after the ballot qualification announcement, advocates are already sniping at competing proposals.
Missouri NORML has gone to bat for the proposed constitutional measure sponsored by New Approach Missouri, which would allow doctors to recommend cannabis for certain medical conditions, let patients grow up to six plants and possess up to four ounces and tax medical marijuana from registered dispensaries at four percent.
“Having three initiatives on the same ballot dealing with the same issue complicates the situation considerably,” Missouri NORML executive director Dan Viets wrote in a blog post on Friday.
New Approach Missouri and the state NORML chapter established an alliance early on—and now that all three initiatives are set to appear on the November ballot, the organization isn’t mincing words about its competition.
“Most observers believe that either of the constitutional amendments would prevail over the statutory initiative even if it got more votes, which seems very unlikely,” Viets wrote. “The other constitutional initiative is funded by a single individual, a wealthy personal injury lawyer from Springfield, Missouri.”
“His campaign has a single contributor. It would establish the highest tax on medical marijuana in the nation and use that tax money to establish a new medical research facility which the filer of the petition, attorney Brad Bradshaw, would personally run. His initiative specifies that the filer of his initiative will choose the Board of Directors and that the Chief Executive of that research agency must be someone who is both a physician and a lawyer, which Bradshaw is! If the press exposes the blatant vested interest he has in this measure, we think the public will reject it.”
Marijuana Moment reached out to the Find the Cures campaign for comment, but did not receive a response.
A spokesperson for the statutory amendment sponsor, Missourians for Patient Care, told Marijuana Moment that the group was actually optimistic about the fact that multiple medical cannabis legalization amendments were on the table.
“We’re ecstatic that Missouri has the chance to decide this issue this November on behalf of all of the initiatives, but we’re especially excited that if voters support one or more of these that Missouri won’t be left behind for patients,” Travis Brown, the signature collection leader for Missourians for Patient Care, said.
There remains a possibility that the competing groups “could cooperate or prevail together,” he said. But at the end of the day, “it’s really ultimately up to the people to decide whether they want to amend their constitution, which has some advantages of permanence.” That same advantage “comes at a disadvantage because it can’t be adapted over time, or improved or tweaked in any way.”
“At this point, it’s a Jenga game to see what the courts may ultimately decide after the voters make their decision.”
Reform efforts in Missouri could have been even further complicated if lawmakers had passed a medical marijuana legalization bill earlier this year.
As advocates hustled to collect signatures for their respective ballot initiatives, Missouri lawmakers debated a bill that would have legalized “smokeless” medical cannabis for patients suffering from serious illnesses. The bill cleared a number of hurdles—but it ultimately died in committee just days before the end of session in May.
Some of those lawmakers have weighed in since the Missouri Secretary of State announced that the three medical marijuana ballot measures had qualified.
“I am concerned that the competing campaigns of the three medical marijuana initiatives certified for the November ballot certified for the November ballot… will alienate voters and lead to Missourians waiting longer to have access to these therapeutic options,” Missouri Rep. Cheri Reisch (R) said in a press release Thursday.
Missouri Rep. Phil Christofanelli (R) echoed that sentiment, saying that while he supported the legalization bill in the House, voters must be “cautious about proposed changes to our laws, especially those built into the constitution, and must work to ensure any voter approved framework is implemented in ways that protects the rights of Missourians to healthcare freedom and equitable commercial access.”
In any case, with a majority of Missourians in favor of medical marijuana legalization according to polls, it seems highly likely that the state will push reform forward, unless advocates sufficiently tarnish each other’s proposals in the public’s eye. But what path they ultimately take in November—and beyond—is yet to be seen.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below: