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California Campaign to Legalize: Not the "Whim of a Couple of Hippies"

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The offices for the initiative to legalize pot in California probably aren't as fun as we think they are. The Atlantic's Chris Good looks at the very professional campaign being run in support of The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, which will be on the ballot November 2. Consultants for the campaign include "Chris Lehane, the former Bill Clinton communications adviser and press secretary for Al Gore, both as VP and in the 2000 campaign; Dan Newman, whose firm SCN Strategies consults for Sen. Barbara Boxer's (D) reelection campaign and is heading up communications for Level the Playing Field 2010, the independent-expenditure campaign against multimillionaire GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman; and Doug Linney of The Next Generation, a firm that has worked for state and local candidate campaigns, as well as major issue-advocacy drives and marijuana decriminalization/law-enforcement-prioritization efforts in California." (It was communications head Newman who said "This isn't some...whim of a couple of hippies.") According to Good, the campaign will be centered on law enforcement support and budget benefits. Its first radio ad, narrated by a former sheriff's deputy, is already running in LA and San Francisco.

The driving force behind the initiative is businessman Richard Lee, founder of pot business school Oaksterdam University. He put up most of the $1.3 million spent on getting the initiative onto the ballot, but financial disclosures show the campaign now has only $32,000. Good points out, though, that the Drug Policy Alliance and its billionaire board member George Soros support the act, which legalizes marijuana for people over 21, but allows local governments to tax and regulate it. The full initiative is here. [Image via Marijuana & Cannabis Blog]
· The Push to Legalize Marijuana: It's Real [The Atlantic]
· Tax Cannabis 2010 [Official Site]