Anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) recently lost a battle with the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The commission wants SAM to reveal their donors since they use those funds for political lobbying and they recently denied SAM’s request to keep those donor names a secret.
In their request for an exemption, SAM said they don’t get big contributions from corporate interests in the “alcohol, tobacco, opioid, or…prison industries.” You’ll notice rehab owners are absent from that list, but in the end, I don’t care if SAM gets 100% of their funding from mega-billionaire Opioid G. Percocet. SAM is very clear in their opposition to cannabis legalization of any kind; their motivations mean nothing to me.
I understand that many reading this do want to know who the donors are, and that’s fine. But whether SAM does what they do out of a deep-seated sense of morality or because they get bags of cash from some shady dude in an alley at 3am, it makes no difference to me. They want to criminalize people who are not infringing on the rights of anyone else – many of those people being very ill – and for that reason alone I oppose them wholeheartedly.
I also understand a list of donors might be useful for things like boycotts; I know I wouldn’t want to give money to a business that supports SAM and if those businesses feel the pinch of a boycott, the money to SAM might dry up. But if, as many suspect, most of SAM’s money comes from the rehab industry, a boycott is not going to do much.
The bottom line is that SAM is not evil because of who funds them, they are evil because they want to continue prohibition and continue to punish millions of strangers who have never done anything to the members of SAM or anyone else.
For their part, SAM contends that their “primary source of funding is from individuals and families, many of whom have seen the negative consequences of marijuana first-hand, as well as other supporters who have given to promote responsible public policy with the expectation of privacy under the federal tax code associated with our (social welfare organization) status.”
Of course, “individuals and families” could easily mean the rehab industry, as could “supporters who have given to promote responsible public policy.” Either way, I find it hard to believe that enough small individual donors who care enough about marijuana legalization to give money to those who oppose it exist to support a multi-million dollar organization like SAM.
And while I don’t care about SAM’s donors, I will admit that part of me is glad some of those resources have to be devoted to bureaucratic red tape and regulation adherence.