By Derrick Stanley
A national coalition that includes Rep. Patrick Kennedy has raised more than $2 million to fight marijuana legalization initiatives in five states this year, including a November ballot measure to legalize recreational pot in California.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana is the anti-legalization group founded by Kennedy and co-founders David Frum, senior editor of the Atlantic; and Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor to the Obama administration.
Sabet, president of the group SAM Action, said that California will get a large amount of the money, because its vote affects so many people and is likely to have the biggest influence on other states considering similar proposals.
“If there is one thing we agree on with legalization advocates, it’s that California is important,” said Sabet, explaining why a large share of funding is going to the state.
If approved by voters this November, the ballot measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of pot for recreational purposes and would also impose a 15% tax on retail sales of the drug.
SAM Action also plans to fund battles against marijuana legalization initiatives on the November ballots in Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine, in addition to Arizona, where signatures have been turned in, according to Sabet.