Ballot measures to liberalize laws involving marijuana use will be on the ballot in nine states this November – and supporters and critics are stockpiling money for the fight ahead, The Hill reports.
Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all will have measures on the ballot to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and Missouri, will decide whether to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for medicinal use.
"What we have now on our side is actual experience in states like Colorado and Washington," Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, based in Denver, tells The Hill, referring to the states where pot is legal for recreational use.
"Now voters can actually see how these programs are working in these states. Before, there were prophecies of doom and gloom."
But it will come down to money.
"There's a real question about whether the movement can really raise enough money to support the [get-out-the-vote] efforts and the ad campaigns to ensure victory," Tom Angell, the founder of Marijuana Majority. "If we do see a significant number of losses, or a big loss in an important state like California, that could seriously interrupt our momentum."
In California, seven groups supporting Proposition 64 have raised more than $8 million, according to the most recent filings with the Secretary of State's office, The Hill reports.
The measure legalizing marijuana for medical use in Florida has attracted $3.8 million in contributions, most of it from trial attorney John Morgan, The Hill reports.
On the anti-legalization side, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group founded by Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, former Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy and conservative columnist David Frum, has raised more than $2 million to oppose legalization measures in Arizona, California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine, The Hill reports.
And the family that founded the Publix supermarket chain in Florida has chipped in $800,000 to the campaign against medical marijuana there, The Hill reports.
"We're worried about the creation of the next Big Tobacco," Sabet tells The Hill. "It's about money. It's about Silicon Valley and Wall Street millionaires making a lot of money."
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