An initiative to legalize and tax marijuana in Washington state has received $1.25 million in new donations.
Initiative 502 raised the money over the weekend from just four donors, including $450,000 donations from Progressive Insurance founder Peter Lewis and an arm of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, The Seattle Times reported.
Campaign manager Alison Holcomb said the donations will pay for a $1 million TV-ad blitz in August.
I-502 is on the November ballot. It would legalize possession and sale of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. It also would impose a steep excise tax on marijuana and cannabis-infused products at new state-licensed marijuana stores, and would allow state-regulated grow farms.
The tax-and-regulate approach to marijuana legalization has drawn strong support from such longtime drug-reform advocates as Lewis, of Ohio. Before the weekend’s contributions, I-502 had raised $1.7 million.
Holcomb said the new contributions, which will be officially reported by the campaign early next week, included $250,000 from Edmonds travel guru Rick Steves, who previously donated $100,000; and $100,000 from the ACLU of Washington.
The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs opposes the initiative. So do several prominent marijuana-legalization advocates and some in the medical-marijuana industry, who object to a proposed new limit on active THC in the bloodstream, arguing it would effectively criminalize driving by medical-marijuana patients.
Philip Dawdy, who previously ran a campaign to decriminalize marijuana, said he was helping organize opposition to I-502. A new group, Safe Access Alliance, would file with state campaign regulators this week, and will be fundraising soon, he said.
The excise taxes imposed by I-502 would dramatically increase costs on patients, Dawdy said.
“I-502 made a serious miscalculation,” Dawdy said. “They calculated that getting the votes of soccer moms were more important than medical-marijuana patients.”