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Strong Poll Numbers Could Mean Big-Money Donations For California Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Wine

CANNABIS CULTURE - A new poll showing 62% of California voters in support of a ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like wine could result in large financial contributions by wealthy donors to a 2012 legalization campaign.

The statewide poll, by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, Inc. surveyed 800 likely voters and found they would be willing to support a ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like wine by a 62% to 35% margin, with 3% unsure.

80% of respondents in the poll agreed to the statement, "State and federal drug laws are outdated and have failed, therefore, we need to take a new approach that makes sense for today."

The high numbers have caused excitement among campaigners for the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Act of 2012 (RMLW), a ballot initiative that would regulate and tax marijuana and hemp in California.

"What it means is that voters have a special place in their hearts for regulating marijuana like wine," RMLW campaign director Steve Kubby told Cannabis Culture. "The reason the voters like it so much is because they trust that it's working with wine, and if the same thing was applied to cannabis, it would probably work out with that too."

Kubby said big numbers in the polls could translate into big donations, which would help the campaign collect enough signatures to put the initiative before voters in November.

"The big funders are people who only bet on sure things, that's why they're so rich," he said. "For them, if your polling at 60% or higher, that gives them confidence their money is going to be well spent and that it's going to result in a victory. The highest that Prop 19 ever pulled was 52%, and here we are at 62%."

Kubby said he's already been in contact with potential contributors.

"They are very excited about this poll and they're going over it right now," he said. "We have three different billionaires that have received our poll and are reviewing it. We're reporting $138,000 in the last quarter of last year from other sources and we've focused on running a credible campaign."

Money is the key to running a successful ballot initiative campaign, Kubby said, because "it isn't possible for anyone to collect that many signatures through volunteers."

"You have to be very aggressive and professional to pull those kinds of numbers," he said. "And so we've always understood we'd have to rely at some point on the big funders for the big signatures. We are, right now, at about 30,000 signatures, which is where we were at with the 215 campaign when I was able to persuade funders to come in and give us the money we needed to get signatures."

The poll also showed likely voters agreed by a margin of 71% to 24% that state and local law enforcement agencies spend too much time and money on marijuana law enforcement.

According to a press release issued by the RMLW campaign, the Attorney General of California has projected "savings of potentially several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments of the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders," as well as potentially generating "hundreds of millions of dollars in net additional tax revenues related to the production and sale of marijuana products."

"There is no policy that is more discriminatory or wastes more tax dollars," RMLW Treasurer and Congressional Candidate (CA-33rd) Steve Collett said in the release. "This initiative helps farmers, reduces prison overcrowding, relieves burdens on the courts, generates revenues for the state, and frees up police to work on real crimes."

Collett said the poll is evidence of widespread support for ending marijuana prohibition in California and nationwide.

Jack Cole, co-founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a 50,000 member organization of police, prosecutors, judges, and supporters said in the release, "LEAP believes the citizens of California are far ahead of the federal government in assessing a policy that will reduce death, disease, crime, and corruption, when they register 62% support for the initiative Regulate Marijuana Like Wine."

The Regulate Marijuana Like Wine initiative has received support from a growing list of politicians, activists and professionals, including Harvard medical professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, former Gov. Gary Johnson, NORML Founder Keith Stroup, Prince of Pot Marc Emery, and actor Tommy Chong.

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