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Prop 19 Pot Legalization: The Money Chase

The Times has a handy database for tracking money going to the forces of "yes" and "no" on Proposition 19, the voter initiative that would make it legal to possess, share or transport less than one ounce of marijuana if you're 21 or older, while also allowing limited cultivation. Local government would then regulate and tax pot.

So far, the "yes" on Prop. 19 side has amassed a huge financial advantage of $1.78 million to just $61,600 against, though much of the 'yes' money is coming from a single source.

Individuals and groups associated with Oakersterdam, the herbalist college whose founder Richard Lee is Prop. 19's biggest backer, have given more than $550,000. Other big backers include $100,000 from Phil Harvey of DKT International in North Carolina, which says it is the "largest private provider of contraceptives and family planning services in the developing world"; $5,000 from Berkeley Patients Group; $1,449.47 from Yes We Cannabis; a clever $420 donation came from Darrel Claridge, a financial planner for City National Bank; $20,000 from Dustin Moscovitz, co-founder of Asana; $12,689 from the president of the California chapter of Norml, the marijuana reform group; $1,500 from Etienne Fontan of Berkeley Patients Group; $20,500 from George Zimmer, CEO of Men's Warehouse ("You're gonna like the way you look"); $1,000 came from Marsha Rosenbaum of the JK Irwin Foundation; at least $5,000 came from an L.A. photographer named Alexander Campbell; $2,000 from a Google software engineer named Nathan Gaylinn (God love today's liberal corporate cultures); and, at least 25,000 came from Odam LA Collective.

On the "no" side, nearly all the money has come in large contributions from police and prosecutor groups. The California Narcotics Officers Association gave $20,500; the California Police Chiefs Association gave $30,000; California Peace Officers Association gave $5,000; and the Peace Officers Association of L.A. County gave another $5,000.

As we noted previously, the Prop. 19 polls are all over the map, and it's anyone's guess whether it will pass.

Last week, the opponents got themselves a victory when Sen. Dianne Feinstein signed on co-chair of the anti-Prop 19 campaign, along with L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca. The state Chamber of Commerce has come out against Prop. 19 and could conceivably use its deep pockets, though it has a lot of irons in the fire at the moment, as it tries to capitalize on the anti-labor, anti-public employee union mood this fall.

For the moment, the "yes" side is much better funded. The question is whether opponents will mobilize and organize to beat it. If not, it could go under the radar and pass, as if by default, giving Californians quite a thing to wake up to November 3.