PORTLAND (AP) — Pro-marijuana donors with deep pockets are pouring millions into legalization measures on the ballot in Washington and Colorado, but they appear to be bypassing a similar pot campaign in Oregon.
Marijuana legalization advocates connected with billionaire donors George Soros and Peter Lewis say the Oregon measure doesn’t appear as politically attractive as it is in the two other states, the Oregonian reported.
The reaction to Oregon’s Measure 80 is a “cause for concern and a disincentive” to donate money, Ethan Nadelmann, a prominent national opponent of the nation’s drug laws, told the newspaper. He heads Drug Policy Action, a New York-based nonprofit that donated $715,000 in Washington and another $90,000 in Colorado.
Law enforcement officials opposing marijuana legalization in Oregon eyed the big dollars from national pot advocates and expected to be heavily outspent this year. But Measure 80 is shaping up to be a low-dollar affair, the newspaper reported.
“We’re trying to bring that money, but we haven’t been successful so far,” said Paul Stanford, Measure 80’s sponsor who owns a chain of medical marijuana clinics around the country.”
Stanford said he largely tapped out his own resources by spending more than $400,000 to make the ballot. His disclosure report lists just $13,000 in contributions, although it may not reflect all of his donations since he has up to 30 days to report them.
Meanwhile, two other marijuana activists have formed a separate group, Oregonians for Law Reform, with the goal of raising enough money to run a separate campaign in favor of Measure 80.
Stanford just hasn’t “been able to build the foundation that big donors want to see in place before they contribute directly,” said Sam Chapman, a recent University of Oregon graduate who started the group along with Kaliko Castille. He added that Stanford’s checkered history as put off some donors.
Stanford has filed for bankruptcy at least twice and pleaded guilty in 2011 to income tax evasion, according to an Associated Press profile of him earlier this year.
Last month, The Oregonian reported that Stanford was having trouble paying petitioners who helped get his measure on the ballot.
Stanford said this week that he’s paid all of the petitioners.