Kathleen Miles is the executive editor of Noema Magazine. She can be reached on Twitter at @mileskathleen.
Super PACs, independent-expenditure committees that can raise unlimited campaign contributions, conjure up images of political heavyweights like Karl Rove and the Koch brothers.
But two marijuana-growing brothers from Eugene, Ore., have decided to use the fundraising platform to fight to legalize weed. They’re accepting donations now at the Legalize Marijuana Super PAC.com.
Mark and Dennis Rogers submitted a super-PAC application to the Federal Election Commission on March 11 and were approved on March 25, Mark Rogers told The Huffington Post.
“We do a lot of activism up and down the West Coast, and we have relations with many dispensaries, so it just made sense,” Rogers said. “If we could all pool our collective interests and pockets books, maybe we could actually shine a light on the hypocrisy of the laws being put on the books.
“Whether it’s Colorado, Oregon or California, the state marijuana laws are vehicles for revenue and criminalization,” he said. “In Washington and soon Colorado, for example, if you smoked a joint last week and get pulled over, you’re a criminal because it stays in your system.”
The only way around confusing, harsh state laws that contradict federal law, Mark Rogers said, is for Congress to legalize the substance. Marijuana is currently classified by the U.S. as a Schedule I drug, the most serious controlled substance designation that also includes heroin and LSD.
When Mark Rogers was diagnosed with degenerative disk disease in 1998, he started looking for a caregiver willing to grow marijuana that he could use to relieve his back pain. Marijuana collectives are illegal in Oregon, but an individual is allowed to grow marijuana for up to four patients.
When he could not find anyone, he researched how to grow marijuana on the Internet and converted a closet into a grow space. After a couple years, he started growing extra marijuana for a man with cerebral palsy; then more still for a woman with AIDS, he said. In 2010, a decade after learning how to grow, he moved with his brother to San Jose, Calif., to start Canna-King Collective, a mobile company of armored vans that delivered marijuana to dispensaries.
“We went the mobile collective route because having a brick-and-mortar store is nearly impossible in California, even though it’s supposedly legal,” he said. “After more and more horror stories we heard of people thrown in jail for running legal collectives, we finally decided to lock up our vans and quit.”
Canna-King Collective was never a large source of income for the brothers because of the cost of the business, Mark Rogers said. Their main income was from a family-owned sheet metal business in Eugene.
Mark Rogers said he and his brother have a few volunteers and a lawyer working with them on their legalization campaign and Super PAC. They plan to compile a list of pro-legalization politicians and candidates on their Website, he said. They are currently accepting donations.
“Congress is years behind the will of the people,” Mark Rogers said. “They need to catch up.”
A Pew Research Center poll released Thursday shows the majority of Americans support pot legalization 52 percent to 45 percent, with 72 percent who say that the cost of federal law enforcement efforts are not worth it.