A Phoenix political consultant has launched a campaign designed to convince Arizonans not to allow medical marijuana in the state.
Max Fose has formed a campaign committee called “Stop The Pot.’’ Campaign finance reports show he is the only contributor to date, having put up $2,500.
Fose did not return repeated phone calls asking him his interest in the issue or whether he is fronting for some other organization.
But web pages already erected by the committee appear designed both to alarm Arizonans about the effects of the ballot measure and undermine the credibility of the national Marijuana Policy Project which is funding the Arizona initiative.
The initiative would allow a doctor to issue a written recommendation that a patient with certain medical conditions be able to purchase and possess marijuana despite state laws making it a felony. Those with these recommendations could go to a non-profit dispensary and obtain up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks.
Fose’s web site puts that in different terms.
“Users will be able to smoke over 200 joints every 14 days,’’ it warns. “200 joints a person is a lot of drugs on our streets, in our neighborhoods and around our children.’’
Andrew Myers, campaign manager for the medical marijuana initiative, acknowledged the amount might seem excessive at first glance. But he said that is based on the idea that everyone with a prescription will smoke it.
He said ingesting marijuana is “the easiest route’’ for many people, including the vulnerable and frail, to get the effects. Myers said that, quite simply, it takes more marijuana being eaten or put into tea to get the same effect as lighting it up.
Then there’s the question of the dispensaries.
“California has over 800 pot shops,’’ the anti-initiative web site warns. “Do you want a pot shop in your neighborhood?’’
Myers said the Arizona initiative requires that the dispensaries be located in areas zoned for commercial or industrial use, though that does not preclude them from being near homes. He said, though, dispensaries cannot be located within 500 feet of schools; state law has a 300-foot minimum between schools and bars.
There is also the question of funding for the initiative.
Nearly $489,000 already has been contributed by the Marijuana Policy Project, a national organization which pushes these kinds of changes throughout the nation.
Mike Meno, the organization’s spokesman, said it has 29,000 dues-paying members but does not provide details of who has given what. He did acknowledge that Peter Lewis, the founder of Progressive Insurance Co. is board chairman and major contributor.
Fose, in his web site, pointed out that Rob Kampia, the organization’s executive director, took a three month “medical leave,’’ a leave that WashingtonPost.com said was due to charges of having sex with a staffer. Meno confirmed that Kampia, in leaving to get therapy, said he was “hypersexualized.’’
Lewis was a major source of cash in the original 1996 Arizona initiative to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana and other illegal drugs to patients, giving $330,000 to that effort.
That measure was approved. But it had no effect after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said it would revoke all prescription-writing privileges of doctors who prescribe marijuana.
That is why this measure, like other subsequently approved in other states, instead allows written “certifications.’’
Myers questioned whether Fose is really interested in the issue. He suggested that Fose’s involvement may be strictly financial, building an anti-marijuana campaign with his own money in hopes of eventually finding a paying client for his consulting firm.