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War Breaks Out Within the Marijuana Legalization Movement (Part 2)

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* The PRA initiative was launched at the Ann Arbor "Hash Bash" on April 6, 2001 after the wording of the PRA proposal was accepted by the State of Michigan.

* In the case of Michigan 302,711 good signatures must be collected within a 6-Month timeframe in order for the initiative to be placed on the November 2002 ballot.

* This meant that all petitions must be in the hands of the State of Michigan no later than October 3, 2001. Since some of the signatures would be invalidated the goal of PRA was to collect at least 450,000 signatures -- allowing for a 33% margin of error

As the collection campaign began on April 6th, 2001 we felt up to the task for a number of good reasons. First of all the 2000 dress rehearsal resulted in a cohesive group of Marijuana reform activists that understood both how to properly collect signatures as well as the best venues to collect them. Secondly we had Tom Crosslin's Rainbow Farm. Rainbow Farm was a rural farm in Jones, Michigan, just a stones throw north of the Indiana border. Since the mid-90's it had become a regional "Hemp Festival" site which drew thousands of activists who came to listen to the music, smoke Marijuana and get exposed to the activists that were promoting Marijuana "self cultivation" for all adult Americans.

So every weekend activists, with their clip boards were busy collecting signatures for PRA at Hart Plaza in Detroit, the Ann Arbor Art Fair, and at just about every major outdoor venue in the state. It was absolutely inspiring to see all of these people sacrificing their leisure time for such a great cause. And I was also inspired to see the incredibly positive response from the public. I ended up collecting over 2,000 signatures for PRA. One of the most common things that I heard this signers say to me was "why don't they just legalize Marijuana for all adults." I could not have agreed more, though even I was surprised to see how widely this sentiment was shared by young and old alike.

As editor of the "New Age Citizen" website I made every attempt to keep this petition drive on track by sending out mass emails, providing activists with the best venues to canvas and keeping track of our progress. It was my belief that keeping activists updated on our progress was essential for us to meet our goals. Below I have posted the graph of our progress which is indicated by the light blue line below.

By mid July it was apparent that, despite an increased rate of collection, we were barely keeping up with the minimum requirement rate. And since as many as 33% of the signatures are often rejected I knew we were in trouble. I also knew that it would be an absolutely devastating blow to the Marijuana Activist Community should such a Herculean effort end in failure.

So after much thought a solution occurred to me. Ethan Nadleman was the primary recipient of drug reform funding from billionaire George Soros. In point of fact Soros was estimated to be worth about 5 billion at the time. The solution seemed pretty simple at this point. Alert Nadleman as to the dire situation we are in and have him arrange a meeting with Soros. I figured that a million dollar infusion from Soros would allow us to bring in professional canvassers, or just give incentives for our current petitioners. And that would only require about a half million and would have put us way over the top as far as signatures were concerned. I figured the other half million could be used to address the negative ads from the prohibitionists once PRA was on track for the 2002 ballot. And for Soros a million dollars is barely chump change.

As you can see from my weekly report, to the Marijuana petitioners, things did not go quite as smoothly as I had hoped.

Overview of Progress 08/02/01:
Gregg Schmidt and I have agreed to disagree on the progress of PRA signature collection. As I reviewed my notes it was 07/14/01 (see below) when Gregg sort of agreed that we "might" have 150,000 signatures. With just 62 days left, before the 10/03/01 deadline, it would be nice to know where we stand. But Gregg has not had a chance to count the signatures yet and doesn't necessarily think the information should be disclosed.

I vehemently disagree but have no means to force a count. As I have stated earlier, if the 150,000 signature figure is accurate for 07/14/01, it means that to reach the 33% overage figure of 450,000 signatures we need to be collecting signatures at 2 to 4 times the current rate. We have expended too much effort already and the only advice I can give is to get your friends off their butts to help harvest signatures at both large and small events.

In addition to this I am making a feeble attempt at getting Soros (80, 5 Billion), Lewis (67, 1.15 Billion) and Sperling (80, 515 Million) to hire professional canvassers to help secure our place on the 2002 ballot. [Note the figures in parentheses represent their ages and accumulated wealth]. These are the same guys that have financed all of the Medical Marijuana Initiatives and I'm hoping that they can help us out with PRA. The table below should help put things in perspective:

Total Assets: $6,665,000,000
Money Spent on Drug Reform since 1996: $20,000,000
What we need to hire canvassers to get 250,000 signatures:
$500,000
What we would like have in order to fight the propaganda prior to the 2002 election:
$500,000

So, for a cool million they could guarantee us a place on the 2002 ballot and possibly make Michigan the first state to make Marijuana (3 Plants and 3 ounces) legal for a adults over the age of 21. C'mon guys, help us make some history here before the world passes you by!!!

On 08/01/01 I sent a e-mail to Ethan Nadelman of the Lindesmith Center begging him to put us in contact with these three. I also copied every Drug Policy Foundation Contact asking that they get in contact with me ASAP. 24 hours later . . . absolutely nothing.

Then the next day (8/3/2001) I got this email from Ethan Nadleman's assistant:

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Editor of the website, New Age Citizen Write-in candidate for President (2008) Author of the "New Agenda for America" NEW AGENDA FOR AMERICA: Preliminary Planks ========================================== Help Influence the 2008 (more...)
 
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