Admin. It is good to know who really finances the opposition to legalizing marijuana . It is heartening to see what voter inspired amendments in Washington and Colorado states has overcome. This means that you as a voter needs to get with like minded people to show elected politicians that your own state needs grass roots amendments to overcome the opposing special interests groups.
POSTED AT 9:04 AM BY LEE FANG
Last year, over 850,000 people in America were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. Despitepublic opinion, the medical community, andhuman rights experts all moving in favor of relaxing marijuana prohibition laws, little has changed in terms of policy.
There have been many great books and articles detailing the history of the drug war. Part of America’s fixation with keeping the leafy green plant illegal is rooted in cultural and political clashes from the past.
However, we at Republic Report think it’s worth showing that there are entrenched interest groups that are spending large sums of money to keep our broken drug laws on the books:
1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbyingdisclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.
2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.
3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.
4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”
5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”
– See more at: http://www.republicreport.org/2012/marijuana-lobby-illegal/#sthash.yXYYppeP.dpuf
Police association lobbyist John Lovell
POSTED AT 11:00 AM BY LEE FANG
John Lovell is a lobbyist who makes a lot of money from making sure you can’t smoke a joint. That’s his job. He’s a lobbyist for the police associations in Sacramento, and he is a driving force behind grabbing Federal dollars to shut down the California marijuana industry. I’ll get to the evidence on this important story in a bit, but first, some context.
At some point in the distant past, the war on drugs might have been popular. But not anymore — the polling is clear, but beyond that, the last three Presidents have used illegal drugs. So why do we still put hundreds of thousands of people in steel cages for pot-related offenses? Well, there are many reasons, but one of them is, of course, money in politics. Corruption. Whatever you want to call it, it’s why you can’t smoke a joint without committing a crime, though of course you can ingest any number of pills or drinks completely within the law.
Some of the groups who want to keep the drug illegal are police associations that want more members to pay more dues. One of the primary sources for cash for more policing activities are Federal grants for penalizing illegal drug use, which help pay for overtime, additional police officers, and equipment for the force. That’s what Lovell does, he gets those grants. He also fights against democratic mechanisms to legalize drugs.
In 2010, California considered Prop 19, a measure to legalize marijuana and tax it as alcohol. The proposition gained more votes than Meg Whitman, the former eBay executive and Republican gubernatorial nominee that year, but failed to pass. Opponents of the initiative ran ads, organized rallies, and spread conspiracy theories about billionaire George Soros to confuse voters.
Lovell managed the opposition campaign against Prop 19. He told Time Magazine that he was pushing against the initiative because, “the last thing we need is yet another mind-altering substance to be legalized.”
But Republic Report reviewed lobbying contracts during the Prop 19 fight, and found that Lovell’s firm was paid over$386,350 from a wide array of police associations, including the California Police Chiefs Association.
While Lovell may contend that he sincerely opposes the idea of marijuana legalization, he has constructed an entire business model predicated on pot prohibition.
Shortly after President Obama’s stimulus program passed, Lovell went to work channeling the taxpayer money for California into drug war programs. According to documents Republic Report obtained from the Police Chiefs Association, Lovell helped local departments apply for drug war money from the Federal government. Here’s a copy of one letter sent to a police department in Lassen County, California:
There is big money in marijuana prohibition. Lovell represented a police association in a bid to steer some $2.2 million dollars into a “Marijuana Suppression Program.” In 2009 and 2010, California police associations sought a $7,537,389 chunk of Federal money for police to conduct a “Campaign Against Marijuana Planting” program.
The anti-marijuana money went directly into the paychecks of many officers. For example, police departments in Shasta, Siskiyou, and Tehama Counties formed a “North California Eradication Team” to receive $550,000 in grants that helped pay for overtime, a new officer, and flight operations:
The total amount awarded was $550,000, to be split between Shasta, Siskiyou and Tehama counties, which make up the Northern California Marijuana Eradication Team (NorCal-MET). Broken down in the agenda worksheet, the sheriff’s office is expecting to spend $20,000 on flight operations, $94,895 for the full-time deputy’s salary and benefits, $16,788 for the administration assistant salary and benefits and $29,983 to cover up to 666.29 hours of overtime.
The Federal anti-marijuana honeypot might have dried up if Prop 19 had passed. Legalizing marijuana would have generated billions in tax revenue for the state of California, while also reducing victimless crime prosecutions. But for lobbyists like Lovell, legalization was a direct assault on hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential fees for helping to solicit taxpayer money for his clients.
Police associations also contributed about $100,500 to a campaign account used to coordinate opposition to Prop 19. Of the $386,350 in fees paid by police associations to Lovell through 2009 and 2010, status update reports reviewed by Republic Report reveal that Lovell worked on a number of issues, from advocacy against Prop 19 to channeling grants and monitoring legislation.
Of course, police associations aren’t the only interest group with a stake in maintaining broken drug laws. The beer industry,alcohol corporations, and prison guard interests also contributed money to help Lovell stop Prop 19. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now helps push for legalization as a citizen advocate, told Republic Report that drug company lobbyists also fight to keep marijuana illegal because they view pot as a low-cost form of competition.
– See more at: http://www.republicreport.org/2012/exclusive-why-cant-you-smoke-pot-because-lobbyists-are-getting-rich-off-of-the-war-on-drugs/#sthash.5lYY3TFt.dpuf