The Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-cannabis legalization group, outspent its prohibitionist opponent Smart Approaches to Marijuana more than 2-to- 1 during the most recent legislative session, according to a VT Digger report. Although public disclosure documents indicate a wider gap – $44,474 by the MPP, compared to $6,096 by SAM Action – SAM co-founder Keven Sabet indicated the organization has not yet paid for all its lobbying efforts, adding the totals, including advertising wouldn’t top $20,000.
Matt Simon, legislative analyst for the MPP, said he believes his group outraised and outspent the prohibitionists because “people are more interested in donating to change than they are to obstruction.”
However, Sabet, and SAM lobbyist Kevin Ellis, said they believe that grass-roots supporters of their group played an integral role in the death of the measure, which was passed by the legislature before being vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott, and then defeated on a procedural vote during June’s special session.
“It’s an argument about what kind of Vermont you want to have,” Ellis said, adding that “the big money has not been spent yet.”
During the veto session, police officers also came out against the measure, as more than a dozen appeared in uniform in Montpelier pressing to halt the bill. Beth Novotny, a lobbyist for the Vermont Police Association, said that she kept an eye on the measure but admitted that it wasn’t a high priority.
Ellis said that if the legislature considers a tax-and- regulate bill in the next biennium the state will see “big marijuana spending serious dollars” in lobbying and advertising.