Enemies of legal pot in the state raise $1.8 million in August
Committees opposed to a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana received more than $1.8 million in donations in August, according to financial reports filed this week.
Voting issues commissions are at the center of a campaign to determine whether voters should approve a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. Whether the referendum remains on the November ballot is a matter being considered by the Arkansas Supreme Court. Committee campaign finance reports for August were due Thursday.
Safe and Secure Communities, which opposes recreational marijuana, raised $1.75 million in August, all from two donors. The group currently had $1.93 million in cash at the time of its last filing.
Safe and Secure Communities is based in Downers Grove, Illinois, with the stated goal of educating the public about the consequences of legalizing marijuana for personal use, according to one of its documents. The band lists Michael McCauley as its treasurer. Safe and Secure Communities, along with Epidemic’s Save Arkansas, joined the case as third-party interveners to keep the issue of recreational marijuana out of the November ballot.
Ronald M. Cameron, chairman of Mountaire Corp., donated $1 million to Safe and Secure Communities in August. Cameron, a Republican Party donor from Little Rock, donated a total of $1.25 million to Safe and Secure Communities. He has already donated millions of dollars over the years to Republican candidates and GOP-affiliated political action committees.
Cameron also donated $78,600 to the Family Council Action Committee, which represents all of the money the group raised in August. The group is also campaigning for the proposed Religious Freedom Amendment which, if approved, would prohibit the government from fettering an individual’s religious freedom.
For the religious freedom amendment, the Family Council Action Committee raised $6,000 in August.
Illinois businessman Richard Uihlein, CEO of Uline, a distributor of shipping and packaging materials, donated $750,000 to Safe and Secure Communities in August.
Safe and Secure Communities spent $72,402 in August, most of which — $55,000 — went to polls and research, according to its latest filing.
Pro-marijuana legalization group Responsible Growth Arkansas raised $605,000 in August, entirely from contributions from Arkansas’ medical cannabis companies. The group is leading the legal effort to keep the issue of recreational marijuana on the ballot.
The group ran a petition campaign to raise the issue of recreational cannabis legalization on the November ballot, but the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners rejected it because it did not specify a limit to the amount of THC that may be contained in edibles. Whether the question will be on the ballot will likely be up to the state Supreme Court.
If it were allowed on the ballot, it wouldn’t be the first time Arkansas voters had the opportunity to weigh in on cannabis. In 2016, voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. The amendment limits the amount of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, to 10 milligrams in food or drink that contains the drug.
In August, Responsible Growth Arkansas filed a lawsuit against the state to uphold the ballot referendum.
Responsible Growth Arkansas is located in Little Rock and lists Eddie Armstrong as president and TJ Boyle as treasurer on its filing form. Armstrong is a former Democratic State Representative and House Minority Leader and is CEO and Chairman of Cannabis Capital Group, a medical marijuana consulting firm.
Ozark REA, LLC, of Sherwood donated $150,000 to the group, the largest donation in August. Berryville-based medical marijuana producer Osage Creek Cultivation, LLC donated $100,000 to Responsible Growth Arkansas in August. In total, Osage Creek Cultivation donated $800,000 to the group.
The group received a total of $4 million in contributions and had $499,952 in cash, according to its latest filing. Responsible Growth Arkansas spent $187,296 in August, with the largest spending on legal and consulting services.