Groups Looking To Legalize Marijuana Are Attracting The Most Ballot Proposal Money

Two Committees Hoping To Legalize Marijuana Have Combined To Draw Nearly $300k In Resources So Far In 2017


Michigan Campaign Finance Network


LANSING — When it comes to changing Michigan law through ballot proposals, the early money appears to be on efforts to legalize marijuana.

Two ballot committees focused on marijuana legalization have raised more money so far in 2017 than any other current ballot committee. Other committees could form or begin raising money later this year.

Through April 20, 2017, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol reported $196,900 in direct and in-kind contributions, the most of any filed ballot committee. In second place was MiLegalize 2018, which reported $99,556 in direct and in-kind contributions.

The two committees are working together in support of the same petition language, according to a press release from MILegalize on April 25.

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is connected to the Marijuana Policy Project, which attempts to change laws on marijuana nationwide. The Marijuana Policy Project had made $41,744 in in-kind contributions, like consulting work and staff time, to the coalition ballot committee as of April 20, according to campaign finance disclosures.

The coalition, which has reported 27 individual contributions, has received two $50,000 contributions: one from Smokers Outlet Management, of Troy; and one from Sam Usman, of UPM LLC in East Lansing.

While MILegalize 2018 hasn’t received as much money so far, it has reported a broader base of support with 129 individual contributions. The committee is a spinoff of a ballot committee that came up short of the needed petition signatures in 2016.

So far in 2017, MILegalize 2018’s top donors have been Kevin McCaffery, president of RBK Enterprises, of Ann Arbor, who gave $50,000, and Steve Bliss, owner of Lake Effect, of Portage, who gave $5,000.

For 2016, a committee needed to gather 252,523 valid signatures to create or amend a Michigan law through a ballot proposal, according to the Michigan Department of State. To amend the Constitution, a committee needed 315,654 valid signatures. Both achievements would bring large price tags.

While it didn’t raise as much money as the marijuana legalization committees, Voters Not Politicians, a committee aimed at changing Michigan’s redistricting process, reported the most individual contributions at 500 as of April 20. The committee reported raising $54,715 with the majority coming from donors who gave less than $5,000.

Below is a look at ballot committees that have reported raising more than $20,000 so far in 2017. Committees that launched after the end of the fundraising period on April 20 won’t have to file disclosures until July 25.

1) Coalition To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
What it is: An effort to legalize marijuana in Michigan
Total raised In 2017: $196,900; 27 individual contributors

Top donors:
Smokers Outlet Management, $50,000
Sam Usman Jr., East Lansing, $50,000
Marijuana Policy Project, $41,744 (in-kind)
Andrew Driver, Gaylor, $25,000

2) MILegalize 2018
What it is: An effort to legalize marijuana in Michigan
Total raised In 2017: $99,556; 129 individual contributions

Top donors:
Kevin McCaffery, Ann Arbor, $50,000
Steve Bliss, Lake Effect, $5,000
Barton Morris, Royal Oak, $3,500
Gulfstream Gardens, $2,500

3) Realtors PAC Of Michigan II
What it is: A fundraising committee of the Michigan Association of Realtors; it is classified as a ballot committee
Total raised In 2017: $61,377; 359 individual contributions

Top donors:
West Michigan Lake Shore Association, Grand Haven, $10,000
Michigan Realtors, $10,000
Greater Kalamazoo Association of Realtors, $2,500
Laura Durham, Saugatuck, $2,500

4) Protect Michigan Jobs
What it is: A committee that’s previously worked to protect Michigan’s prevailing wage
Total Raised In 2017: $57,918; 11 individual contributions

Top donors:
Michigan Chapter of National Electrical Contractors Association, $27,836 (in-kind)
Michigan Building Trades & Construction Council, $10,000
Michigan Building Trades & Construction Council, $10,000 (in-kind)
Associated General Contractors, $6,351 (in-kind)

5) Voters Not Politicians
What it is: A committee aimed at reforming Michigan’s redistricting process
Total raised In 2017: $54,715; 500 individual contributions

Top donors:
John Hanieski, Grand Ledge, $10,000
Irma Glaser, West Bloomfield, $10,000
William Rittenberg, East Lansing, $5,000
Steven Tenelshof, Grand Rapids, $1,000

6) Protecting Michigan Taxpayers
What it is: A committee that’s worked to repeal the state’s prevailing wage
Total raised In 2017: $50,000; 1 individual contribution

Top donor:
September Group LLC, $50,000

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