Cannabis leaf on grunge background, shallow DOF.

Over the weekend, the Associated Press noted that there are increasing efforts across the country to reform our nation’s draconian laws outlawing marijuana. Colorado could be the focal point of this movement. Voters this year will decide on Amendment 64, which would legalize marijuana use and regulate and tax the drug in a similar fashion as the state controls alcohol.

Amendment 64 is similar to Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization ballot initiative that fared surprisingly well in California in 2010. Although Prop 19 garnered more voters than Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for governor that year, it did not pass. Republic Report published an exclusive investigation into the opponents of Prop 19, revealing that a senior police association lobbyist orchestrated much of the attacks on Prop 19 while earning a hefty salary funneling federal Drug War money to his law enforcement clients. If Prop 19 had passed, the lobbyist, John Lovell, might have lost opportunity to channel taxpayer cash to his clients.

With the Colorado initiative just picking up steam, it’s worth looking at the political forces organizing to lobby against its passage. Republic Report has reviewed campaign finance records and compiled this survey of the opposition to Amendment 64:

— Two-thirds of the entire the budget for the “No on Amendment 64″ committee has been provided by a Florida-based nonprofit called “Save Our Society From Drugs.” The organization was founded by Betty Sembler, a veteran Drug Warrior whose husband is on the Mitt Romney for President finance team. According to one biography of Sembler, she has been awarded an “honorary agent status by the DEA” and was pivotal in founding drug rehabilitation clinics and the Drug Free America Foundation. From 1976 to 1993, the Sembler family operated a drug rehabilitation clinic known as STRAIGHT Inc., which closed down after a shocking series of scandals that revealed that clients faced rape, faced beatings, forced hunger, and other abuses at the clinics.

— The “No on Amendment 64″ committee was registered by Jonathan Anderson, a Republican lawyer with law/lobbying firm Holland & Anderson. Anderson, a former aide to Gov. Bill Ritter (R-CO), was deeply involved in setting up organizations to coordinate corporate cash into the 2010 election.

— The day-to-day management of the “No on Amendment 64″ committee is coordinated by CRL Associates, a lobbying firm registered in Denver.

— The “No on Amendment 64″ committee contracts with Keating Research Inc, which bills itself as a progressive consulting firm, for polling.

— A coalition website that links to the “No on Amendment 64″ effort lists other allies of the campaign with many groups that rely on marijuana prohibition for financial gain, including police associations like the Colorado Law Enforcement Officers Association (police associations often utilize federal grants which provide funds for law enforcement as long as officers prioritize drug enforcement, including marijuana). The list also includes several religious right organizations like Focus on the Family.

As voters begin to consider Amendment 64, the forces opposed to legalization will likely spend a great deal on campaigning. The campaign to keep marijuana illegal has not yet run any ads and has only spent money so far on its own poll, a campaign website, and other expenditures to political consultants, according to our review of Colorado campaign finance records.

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  • Brian Sumpter

    “To protect and serve” my macaroni! To abuse and cash in is more like it! The cops are as bad as the mob on this one!

  • ain’t skeered

    As long as there are no benefits to people, it’s OK as long as the cops have benefits. New cars, new data bases, new ways to keep the people in fear and under their thumbs. There is so much evidence that marijuana is largely medically harmless, the only real harm comes from its prohibition and giving people police records. It bothers me that people can be hired to fight for any cause that keeps we the people down as long as there is money to be had.

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  • CatKinNY

    I’ll bet you the Coors family has a hand in this too – when you smoke dope, you eat more and drink less beer.

  • Gone2BigD

    Who cares if its prescribed. They can still seize it. Who cares if someone lives in excruciating pain, they’ll take it. If the cops themselves can’t make money off of it, why should anyone else? I mean seriously, how many cops smoke it or drink too much, or even have abuse charges filed on them? We know it happens. Besides, have ANY of those who are against it ever thought about how much the regulations & taxes on it will help the CO economy? How many gaps will it fill? How many teachers can be re-hired? But NO they never consider those aspects. Why should they?

  • Lion11110

    I need to say it. I was a server for many years and sold booze to make money. I am so ashamed! I wish we could have a discussion about the PROBLEM of alcohol when looking to outlaw substances. What do we hear? Prohibition doesn’t work! Well prohibiting pot doesn’t work either as many more people now know well.
    I don’t drink because my dad was alcoholic and even the smell makes me sick now. He would come home drunk and beat his wife and kids. He rarely worked and left the burden of supporting 7 kids on my Mom started washing dishes and worked hard all her life even with breast cancer then terminal cancer that had spread after 11 years. She worked until she could no longer stand up. She finally quit and went straight to her death bed. On her last day while filled with morphine my Mumma was dreaming of serving a banquet and she gave us all a job at the banquet in her mind. It was another very sad day in her life.
    As a young child I always wondered why alcohol was legal when it caused so much violence all around me. And I know there are children out there tonight still asking the same logical question. I hurt for them! I cry for them. Does anyone care about the children? The battered women?
    Im not judging alcoholics, everyone has their story I just wish they could be happy and not fight for no reason.
    I do have a prescription to smoke pot now. When I didnt have that license though I still never beat my kids or husband and my husband has not beat me. Violence in bars when drunken brawls happen every night seems to be okay too. The whole world remains crazy is all. Thanks Health Canada for giving me my much appreciated freedom to use the medicine that helps me. I am sad when I read this medicine is not legal to give patients who prefer it to pharmaceuticals or especially that effing booze. Its poison. Governments who claim to be interested in saving you by outlawing medicine need to be looking at the big problem of socially accepted alcohol.

  • Disgusted Wisconsin

    There is too much money in keeping it illegal. People refuse to vote on this issue alone. The issue is; what is truely less harmful for the individual alchohol or pot? Then vote accordingly. It’s pretty well documented now if all studies are taken into account. The main thing is to discount all of the DEA propaganda. It’s sad that the 20% of the population “the useful idiots” will prevent common sense from prevailing. It’s for the children they say while they lock their kids away into prison for almost nothing.

    The moneyed interests will come in a scare the old people and they will keep the young from having anything. Apparently the older people want to deny the young generation anything reasonable if it involves change. This is setting in all accross the country on a number of issues. I am older and I see the utter hypocracy in the older generations. It makes me asshammed of the actions of people who should be wiser and less self-centered are taking every day. Of course the police will show up and vote against the people.

  • Disgusted Wisconsin

    Maybe I shouldn’t be so asshammed but I am…… haha excuse my stupidity..

  • Donald Nelson

    Alcohol is the root of all evil. I have seen so many lives destroyed by booze. Abused spouses, lost jobs, DUI’s and a co-worker’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver, who got 3 years for taking a life. Third strike drug abusers are getting 25 years to life. The time to worry about a government is when they thumb their nose at the will of the people.

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