Marijuana Ballot Measures Boosted By $50K Donation From National Advocacy Group

Marijuana Ballot Measures Boosted By $50K Donation From National Advocacy Group

Campaigns to legalize marijuana in two states have received sizable financial contributions from a national advocacy group less than two weeks before the midterm elections.

The Drug Policy Alliance’s political action committee, Drug Policy Action, said it was contributing $50,000 total in support of adult-use cannabis legalization measures on the ballot in Michigan and North Dakota, with the donations equally divided between the two campaigns.

“While we’ve been very successful with marijuana legalization so far, it’s critical that we keep moving the ball forward in the states, which will help us to further ratchet up the pressure on federal policymakers for national reform,” Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, executive director of DPA, told Marijuana Moment. “That’s why DPA is leading the charge for marijuana legalization in New York, New Jersey, and New Mexico, and we’re of course lending our support to ensure that the initiatives in Michigan and North Dakota are successful.”

Legalizing cannabis in North Dakota could be politically advantageous in the long run, Michael Collins, interim director of DPA’s office of national affairs, told Marijuana Moment. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), who is a member of the crucial Appropriations Committee, might be more inclined to support federal cannabis reform amendments that come before the panel if his state votes in favor of the ballot measure, for example.

“Also, adding Michigan and North Dakota to the legal column would further demonstrate the stupidity of any [federal border] policy banning entry to and from Canada for marijuana use,” Collins said. “Almost half the states that border Canada would have legal marijuana.”

“This would also spur moves to end federal prohibition.”

At last check, a prohibitionist committee—funded entirely by Smart Approaches to Marijuana—had raised significantly more contributions in opposition of the North Dakota measure, compared to pro-legalization campaigns. The extra $25,000 will help level the financial playing field.

In Michigan, where there was a key campaign finance reporting deadline on Friday, things seem a bit more equitable. One major source of funding came from New Approach PAC, a national group that contributed more than $220,000 in support of the legalization measure throughout 2018.

DPA also recently put money toward candidates who back marijuana policy reform in a half dozen key congressional races. That includes a contribution to Collin Allred, a Democratic House candidate who’s facing off against the staunchly prohibitionist incumbent, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), in a surprisingly tight race.

Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) also received a contribution from DPA as she competes against incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) for a Senate seat. Heller has been “mostly AWOL on our issues,” Collins said, whereas Rosen has consistently championed reform.

Here’s the full list of new candidate contributions from DPA:

Jacky Rosen (D-NV): $1,000

Bill Nelson (D-FL): $2,000

Collin Allred (D-TX): $5,000

Tracy Mitrano (D-NY): $1,000

Dana Balter (D-NY): $2,000

Sri Kulkarni (D-TX): $2,000

Collins said DPA determined who they would donate to based on whether the candidate is “in a tight race where we could help” or if their election (or opponent’s defeat) could “help us advance drug policy reform on Capitol Hill.”

Michigan’s Marijuana Ballot Initiative Campaigns Heat Up, Latest Finance Filings Show

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Marijuana Ballot Measures Boosted By $50K Donation From National Advocacy Group

North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Measure Winning In Latest Poll

North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Measure Winning In Latest Poll

North Dakota voters appear poised to legalize marijuana via a ballot measure next month, according to a new poll.

Measure 3, which would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over in one of the country’s most conservative states—and with no possession limits—is ahead among likely voters by a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent in the survey released on Sunday.

North Dakota has brought marijuana policy reform supporters pleasant surprises before. Medical cannabis was approved there by an overwhelming majority of voters in 2016, for example, and will be available to patients sometime in 2019.

And despite little pro-legalization funding and relatively large spending in opposition to the ballot measure—a flip of the usual paradigm seen in most other states with cannabis initiatives—libertarian-leaning and younger voters on the prairie appear to be pushing Measure 3 towards a slim victory.

The results sharply contrast to those of another poll released earlier this month, which found the marijuana measure losing, 59 percent to 30 percent.

And although legalization support was significantly larger than opposition in the new survey, 13 percent of the 412 respondents say they are still undecided, leaving the issue very much in balance in the lead up to Election Day.

Nonetheless, legalization advocates are pleased with the new polling result.

“Despite a big-money funded misinformation campaign from the opposition, this poll reveals that most North Dakotans are ready to end the failed prohibition of marijuana in the state,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said in a press release. “By voting ‘Yes’ on Measure 3, North Dakotans could save the state millions of taxpayer dollars currently being spent on arresting otherwise law-abiding adults for possession of a plant that is objectively less harmful than legal alcohol and tobacco, allow law enforcement to allocate their limited resources to focus on violent crime, and defend individual freedom.”

But activists know that the opposition has more money, and aren’t taking anything for granted over the next few weeks.

“The message of ending marijuana arrests is resounding in North Dakota, and these results demonstrate that voters are hearing our call for action. This is a dogfight, and LegalizeND will continue to set the record straight when it comes to adult-use marijuana,” Cole Haymond, a campaign advisory for Legalize ND, said.

Consistent with other states where medical marijuana has become legal, the measure performed best with voters under 50 in the new poll. Fifty-seven percent of respondents were 50 or older, suggesting that if younger voters turn out on Election Day, the measure may stand an even better chance of success.

“Passage of Measure 3 is greatly dependent upon the voters under the age of 50 voting in at least their historical percentages,” reads a polling memo by The Kitchens Group, which conducted the survey. “If the electorate is skewed toward the older, more conservative voters, passage could be problematic.”

But Measure 3 is being sold to voters on a personal responsibility platform, with emphasis on harsher penalties for sales to minors—and on marijuana’s proven ability to alleviate opiate-related overdoses and deaths.

When these aspects of the ballot measure were mentioned to poll respondents, support increased by the end of the eight-question survey.

Both before and after the push-polling, the percentage of voters who said they would “definitely” vote no stayed at a consistent 29 percent, suggesting that North Dakota has only a hardcore minority of prohibition-minded voters, with many more undecideds and pro-legalization voters.

The ballot measure is very far-reaching compared to those proposed in other states. It would allow possession, cultivation and sales of marijuana, with no set limits, though lawmakers would almost certainly enact regulations in the event of the measure’s passage. It would also expunge prior cannabis convictions.

The poll was conducted between October 11 and 14, and has a margin of error or +/- 4.9 percentage points.

Voters in seven states will consider marijuana ballot measures on Election Day this year.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Measure 3 legalized only small amounts of marijuana. The text of Measure 3 legalizes marijuana for adults 21 and over with no possession limits. This article has been updated.

North Dakota’s Marijuana Legalization Supporters Outraised By Opponents, Filings Show

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Measure Winning In Latest Poll

North Dakota’s Marijuana Legalization Supporters Outraised By Opponents, Filings Show

North Dakota’s Marijuana Legalization Supporters Outraised By Opponents, Filings Show

Despite growing interest in North Dakota’s marijuana legalization ballot measure among the state’s voters, it is groups and individuals from outside the state who are driving much of the funding on either side of the debate heading up to Election Day. And newly filed campaign finance reports show that opponents have far more resources on hand than do supporters of ending cannabis prohibition.

Measure 3, Marijuana Legalization and Automatic Expungement Initiative, would legally allow the recreational use of marijuana for people 21 years of age or older, including but not limited to “growing, manufacturing, distributing, selling or testing of marijuana.” It would also create an automatic process to expunge the criminal records of “individuals with convictions for a controlled substance that has been legalized.” The proposal was certified for the ballot in August, with advocates having collected 1,100 more valid signatures than the 13,452 required to place it before voters.

Two campaign committees have formed to support the legalization initiative.

LegalizeND registered with the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office on August 13, and Legalize North Dakota on September 5. The latter organization’s recently filed campaign finance report indicates that it has $1,600 on hand, but does not indicate where the money came from.

LegalizeND’s reports give a clearer picture. The group has received $9,457 in cash and $14,100 in in-kind donations. Over half of the cash ($5,652) came from donations of under $100.

The largest cash donation ($1,065) came from an individual in Minnesota. Two former North Dakota Libertarian candidates, Marty Riske and Eric Olson, donated $3,350 and $2,000 in-kind, respectively.

National legalization organization NORML has donated $2,538 worth of in-kind services and materials, and celebrity chef-turned-marijuana-activist Rick Steves is reported as providing $5,803 as an in-kind donation, as part of his visit to North Dakota last week to drum up support for the initiative.

Meanwhile, on the anti-legalization side, 100 percent of reported contributions to Healthy and Productive North Dakota (HAPND) have come from a single source: national anti-marijuana lobbying group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), based in Alexandria, Virginia. Resources on the group’s website also point to documents created by SAM. HAPND, which registered September 27, submitted reports showing a total of $156,234 from SAM, with $100,156 of that as in-kind services or resources.

SAM emphasized its efforts in the state in a fundraising email on October 9, which stated:

“Chief of Staff, Luke Niforatos, and our Marijuana Accountability Coalition coordinator, Justin Luke Riley, kicked off our formal campaign – Healthy and Productive North Dakota – and we launched a series of billboards and social media ads in key North Dakota markets… The marijuana industry is going all-in for the states in which it is working to legalize. They are salivating at the opportunity to expand their profit-driven scheme in a new state.”

Business groups from within North Dakota formed a separate anti-measure committee, North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana (NDALRM). The group, which registered on September 4, is managed by Matt Gardner, the director of government affairs for the Greater North Dakota Chamber.

The Chamber itself is the biggest donor to NDALRM, thus far committing $30,000. The North Dakota Retail Association and Associated General Contractors of North Dakota have each put in $10,000. Sporting goods chain Scheels has donated $8,500, and its CEO Steve Scheel personally contributed $10,000. Oil man Fred Evans put in $10,000 as has the North Dakota Petroleum Council. The North Dakota Motor Carriers Association ponied up $5,000, and North Dakota Beer Wholesalers contributed $2,500. And State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (R) chipped in $1,000.

In total, NDALRM has raised $116,200 in cash, including $2,250 in donations under $100 each. In its October 5 report, the group reported spending only $38,490 thus far. LegalizeND meanwhile reported that it had spent all but $25 of its cash as of October 5, and hasn’t reported any cash donations of over $500 since then. That means it’s likely North Dakota voters will be seeing a lot more anti-Measure 3 advertisements and other materials than paid communications supporting legalization in the remaining weeks before they head to the polls.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

North Dakota’s Marijuana Legalization Supporters Outraised By Opponents, Filings Show

The Marijuana Election Has Already Begun. No Need To Wait Until November 6 To Vote On Cannabis

The Marijuana Election Has Already Begun. No Need To Wait Until November 6 To Vote On Cannabis

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:

Colorado

A proposal to amend the definition of industrial hemp under the Colorado constitution. 

Ballots handed out to voters who request them: October 5*

*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.

Michigan

A proposal to fully legalize marijuana for adult-use. 

Absentee voting begins: County clerks begin sending out mail-in ballots* September 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

Three competing proposals to legalize medical cannabis

Absentee voting begins: September 25*

*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.

North Dakota

A proposal to fully legalize marijuana for adult-use. 

Absentee voting begins: September 27

Early voting begins: Counties may begin offering early voting as soon as October 22. Consult your county’s election office, as start dates vary.

Ohio

Proposals in six municipalities across Ohio to locally decriminalize cannabis.

Early voting begins: October 10

Absentee voting begins: October 10

Utah

A proposal to legalize medical cannabis.

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.

Wisconsin

Non-binding advisory questions in 16 counties asking voters to weigh in on medical or adult-use cannabis legalization.

Absentee voting: Requests for an absentee ballot must be submitted by November 1

Early voting begins: September 22*

*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:

The Marijuana Election Has Already Begun. No Need To Wait Until November 6 To Vote On Cannabis

North Dakota Likely To Vote On Marijuana Legalization In November

North Dakota Likely To Vote On Marijuana Legalization In November

A petition to fully legalize marijuana in North Dakota appears to be heading to the November ballot, an election official at the secretary of state’s office indicated to Marijuana Moment on Tuesday.

The office is currently wrapping up the signature verification process, which involves sending a couple thousand postcards to randomly selected signees to confirm information they included when signing ballot petitions. If the postcards come back with inconsistencies, “we look into things further,” the official said in a phone interview. 

“As of right now, what’s come back in, there’s nothing that casts a red flag anywhere.” 

The group behind the recreational cannabis petition, LegalizeND, submitted about 18,700 signatures to the Secretary of State office last month—far exceeding the 13,452 signatures required to qualify for the ballot.

The deadline to verify the signatures and officially secure the initiative’s placement on the November ballot is Monday, August 13. The official said an announcement would likely come after the final batch of mail is delivered to the secretary of state’s office that day.

What’s in the legalization initiative?

That North Dakota, a decidedly red state, could become the next to fully legalize marijuana at the state-level has taken some observers by surprise. But perhaps even more surprising is the wide ranging nature of the initiative itself.

Unlike other states that have legalized for adult use, this initiative would not place restrictions on things like the number of plants a person over 21 can grow or how much cannabis they can possess. All forms of marijuana—including flower, concentrates, hash and oils—would be permitted.

The measure would also create a pathway for the expungement of criminal records for past marijuana-related offenses. You can read the full text of the initiative here.

If the signatures on the petition are verified on Monday, the vote in November may be tight. A June 2018 poll commissioned by LegalizeND found that 49 percent of North Dakota voters approve of marijuana legalization, 39 percent disapprove and 15 percent remain undecided. The most compelling argument in support of legalization to voters in the state is that “it will benefit agriculture in North Dakota,” the survey found.

The recreational cannabis legalization initiative would represent a fairly significant departure from the state’s current medical marijuana system, which was approved by voters in 2016. The existing program prohibits home cultivation, allows qualifying patients to possess up to three ounces of cannabis and caps the number of licensed dispensaries at eight.

North Dakota isn’t the only historically right-leaning state to move in the direction of cannabis reform in 2018. Three medical marijuana initiatives officially qualified for the November ballot in Missouri last week. And Oklahoma voters approved a medical marijuana legalization initiative in June.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

North Dakota Likely To Vote On Marijuana Legalization In November

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