Ore. pot measure struggles as Wash., Colo. thrive

Associated Press Modified: October 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm •  Published: October 3, 2012
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"We see that prohibition has failed and regulation works, and that's what we're trying to do is regulate this market," Stanford said.

Then there's the money problem.

Colorado's financial success has come about because of strong polling and years of work lining up support, said Mason Tvert, head of Colorado's Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Tvert also helmed a 2006 marijuana legalization measure that failed badly at the polls.

Colorado's campaign had raised almost $1 million through Monday, most of it from the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which gave $830,000.

Proponents in Washington have raised more than $4 million, much of it from Peter Lewis, the retired chief executive of Progressive Insurance; Rick Steves, the author of popular travel guides; and Drug Policy Action. More than $1 million of that was raised last week alone. The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has been involved from the beginning.

In Oregon, Stanford bankrolled the bulk of the $350,000 signature-gathering effort to get the measure on the ballot.

Since it qualified, the campaign has raised just $32,000.

Stanford acknowledges that his fundraising struggles stem in part from reports about his financial troubles dating to the mid-1990s.

He's had federal and state tax judgments and at least two bankruptcies. He was sued for more than $38,000 by a marijuana donor who accused him of stealing the money in 1999. For at least three years, he paid off his personal bills with money from his Hemp & Cannabis Foundation, a network of clinics in several states where doctors approve patients for medical marijuana use.

Stanford declined to address the financial issues in his past, saying it wouldn't be helpful to his campaign.

Other Oregon activists are trying to salvage the campaign. Chapman and another marijuana activist set up their own political action committee to promote it outside of Stanford's operation, hoping to attract last-minute donors. They've raised $4,600 and spent about $2,000, according to campaign finance records.

But for now, all bets are on Colorado and Washington to be the first state to legalize pot.

"Those two states probably represent the best possibility of legalizing marijuana, and probably the best until 2016," said Ethan Nadelmann, director of Drug Policy Action, the campaign arm of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance.

___

Associated Press writers Gene Johnson in Seattle and Kristen Wyatt in Denver contributed. Contact AP writer Jonathan J. Cooper at http://twitter.com/jjcooper .


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