This November, Colorado’s voters will have the chance to take a historic vote by approving a ballot amendment — Amendment 64 — that would legalize the adult possession of small amounts of marijuana.
There’s a well-funded campaign being waged to convince voters to oppose this amendment. Calling itself Smart Colorado, this group claims that passing Amendment 64 would “harm” the state’s children and generally cause havoc.
Smart Colorado is not upfront about who is funding its campaign. But its recently filed disclosure with the secretary of state makes one thing shockingly clear: the campaign is largely being funded by individuals and organizations who profit from the drug war status quo.
Let’s take a look at some of the campaign’s biggest funders:
- Police And Police Associations: The police profit off of the drug war because they gain access to drug enforcement grants that allow them to hire additional staff and purchase more equipment. The Colorado Drug Investigators Association gave $1,000 on September 10th. The Association of Colorado State Patrol Professionals gave $500 to the campaign on September 7th. Patrick Crouch, an agent with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, gave $50 on the same date. Regina Marinelli, another police officer, gave $100 on the same date, as did Kevin Burke, another law enforcement official. Police commander Jerry Peters has chipped in $220. These are just a few of the donations from police officers.
- Drug Rehab Centers: The single largest donation to Smart Colorado comes from an organization called Save Our Society from Drugs based in Florida. It gave a whopping $126,497.21 to the campaign. The organization, as The Nation’s Lee Fang documents, runs abusive drug rehab centers that have been compared to “torture.”
- The Hospitality Industry: The hospitality industry includes food services, alcohol, and other activities that are competitors to recreational marijuana use. The Broadmoor, a resort in Colorado Springs that was recently bought by right-wing billionaire Phil Anschutz, donated $1,065.42 to Smart Colorado. The Hospitality Issue Political Action Committee gave $3,000 on September 5th.
The drug war is one of America’s biggest policy failures. It’s perpetuated by a variety of actors, not the least of which is the fact that a lot of people profit off of this bad policy. Colorado’s voters should educate themselves and not fall prey to the coming barrage of propaganda from Smart Colorado.