Colorado has a closely watched November ballot initiative to legalize marijuana by decriminalizing it while regulating and taxing it. However, there are powerful deep pocketed lobbying interests spending a ton of money to defeat Amendment 64, notably police unions and the drug rehab lobby.
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 unions like the Colorado Law Enforcement Officers Association (police unions 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.
Read the rest here
Not surprisingly, the top five lobbying groups opposing the legalization of marijuana are: Police Unions, prison guards, the beer/booze industry, private prison corporations and Big Pharm!
Also, America's religious right and socially conservative theocrats are a formidable force in criminalizing all human behavior that conflicts with their Biblical literalist worldviews, including prostitution, homosexuality, gambling etc. Never underestimate the 'Sin Police'.
Meanwhile, an overwhelming percentage of Americans totally support decriminalizing marijuana and it's long overdue for this issue to move beyond medical marijuana to outright decriminalization and abolishing all marijuana related criminal statutes.