How many times have we heard that? “We don’t make the laws; we just enforce them.”
Of course, that’s complete crap, as any of us who have attended a legislative session about medical marijuana legalization know – seeing the law enforcement officers in uniform there attempting to influence the process, even to the point of giving testimony regarding what is “medicine.” We see the police associations lobbying and spreading misinformation.
This next bit of information has been already discussed at length here in comments, but I think it’s important enough to have as a main post.
Ray Stern with the Phoenix New Times reported on this: Forfeiture Funds Used to Opposed Marijuana Legalization
A law-enforcement task force in Yavapai County cut a $50,000 check from RICO funds to a substance-abuse group dedicated to fighting marijuana legalization in Arizona, New Times has learned.
The deal between the Yavapai County-based Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT) task force and MATFORCE was made soon after the Marijuana Policy Project announced it would launch a 2016 legalization campaign in Arizona â€” and more public funding against legalization could be on the way.
And here’s no surprise…
We don’t want to make any rash assumptions, but a Google search shows that MATFORCE conducted quite a bit of anti-marijuana-legalization campaigning in early 2014, after it received the RICO funds. Various boards and town councils were approached and asked to sign resolutions against legalization â€” resolutions which were sometimes filled with half-truths and rank propaganda. A few months after getting Polk’s RICO check, MATFORCE also brought in nationally-known anti-legalization speaker Kevin Sabet for its annual conference that April. We’ll let you know if we find out Sabet received expense reimbursements or direct payments from MATFORCE for his appearance. […]
UPDATE May 14: Sheila Polk got back to us, letting us know â€” essentially â€” that we were correct. The RICO funds helped pay for Sabet’s appearance in April of 2014. Here’s her email to New Times:
“The RICO funds have been used by MATFORCE to conduct a public awareness campaign on the harms of marijuana through billboards, focus groups on effective messaging, radio PSAs, rack cards, a marijuana tool kit, books, associated contract and travel expenses, and two conferences on marijuana in 2014. Our first conference was in April where we brought out Kevin Sabet, the leading national expert on marijuana, its harms, and the negative impact on communities in states that have legalized it for either medical or retail purposes, and the second was in November. Both conferences were open to the public. Kevin Sabet is the founder of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, along with Patrick Kennedy.
This kind of use of taxpayer money to lobby against citizen initiatives is obviously wrong in so many ways, but those doing it were initially bolstered by the Arizona Attorney General:
Last week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an opinion, based on a question by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, that public resources could continue to “educate” the public about the alleged evils of marijuana legalization.
However, this statement created such an outcry, that he has backed off that position.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has withdrawn his May 4 opinion regarding the use of public resources in elections following intense criticism.
A link to the opinion now returns a message of the withdrawal, and Brnovich’s office issued a public statement about it today:
“Attorney General Brnovich takes the allegations that the previously issued opinion may have provided an opportunity for potential government abuse very seriously. Like those who requested the original opinion, our office has a responsibility to protect the taxpayer dollars of hardworking Arizonans.”