Fight over marijuana legalization is cheap by Capitol standards

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No measure on the November ballot has received more publicity than Proposition 19, the initiative that would legalize marijuana in California. Although proponents and foes of lesser-known measures involving business tax breaks and procedural rules for drawing political districts have spent millions on their ballot measure campaigns, the fight over marijuana legalization has been relatively cheap, at least by California ballot-measure standards.

New campaign finance records show the backers of an initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California are out-raising their opponents as of Sept. 30. The Yes on Prop 19: Tax Cannabis 2010 committee reported spending $842,946 so far this year and having $67,467 left in the bank on Sept. 30. Major donors include S.K. Seymour LLC, a medical marijuana provider, AgraMed and Dale Gieringer, the state director of the marijuana legalization group NORML.


The group Public Safety First, No on Proposition 19 reported spending $199,000 this year after raising $158,400 and accumulating some unpaid bills. Leading donors to the opposition group include the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which gave $25,000; the California Narcotics Officers Assn., which contributed $20,500; and the California Beer and Beverage Distributors, which put in $10,000.

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento