Who is funding the anti-prop 19 campaign?
As the campaign for and against Proposition 19 (a bill proposing to regulate, control and tax cannabis, essentially legalising various cannabis related activities) enters its final phase, a deeper look into the funding of the anti-prop 19 campaign highlights some interesting allegiances. So far, the major donors for the anti-prop 19 campaign have generally come from Police associations with the California Police chiefs Association giving $30,000 and the California Narcotics officers association giving $20,000. However, it has recently come out that the Californian Beer and Beverage Distributors have made a donation of $10,000, joining the campaign alongside two other groups who are clearly dependent on the law-enforcement aspect of current cannabis legislation.
This move is certainly not surprising considering the likely knock-on effect to alcohol consumption if cannabis use is legalised, as it is fair to assume that people will chose to start smoking more at the expense of consuming alcohol. Despite cannabis being a far safer, non-toxic alternative to alcohol, its certainly surprising that the law-enforcement associations and the alcohol industry would join forces so easily, especially when one considers the cost to law-enforcement services of alcohol abuse. Or maybe this is why the two groups can work together. If there were no drunks causing havoc across the state, there would certainly be less of a need for so many policemen.
California has the largest budget deficit of any American state by some distance and is continuing to spiral out of control. The economic cost in the United States of alcohol consumption is staggering, estimated by the federal government to cost annually $200 billion in hospitalisations, crime and in lost working hours. Further government figures also highlight that at least 25-30% of all violent crimes, 30-60% of homicides and possibly around as many as half of all sexual assaults are alcohol related.
Furthermore, Californian state legislative analysts estimate that the passing of the bill would provide significant savings to both state and local governments due to reductions of individuals incarcerated, on probation and/or on parole. Enforcement costs related to cannabis would result in substantial savings that could be used elsewhere in the criminal justice system. In addition, revenues from the taxation of sales and businesses engaged in commercial activities relating to cannabis would also generate considerable revenue for the Californian economy.
Regardless of the combined political power of anti-prop 19 lobbies, the most recent opinion polls seem to suggest that the majority of Californians support the bill. A field poll, conducted in the last few days places those in support of the bill at 49% compared to 42% against the bill. The ballot proposition will be held on November 2nd across California.
Nevertheless, the combined resources and influence of the anti-prop 19 lobby will provide formidable opposition over the next month against the pro-prop 19 campaigners. However, the bill is still supported by a majority of Californians, so lets just hope it stays that way.