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Marijuana legalization opponent directed to identify donors

ALBANY — The sources of funding for a group lobbying against legislative efforts to legalize adult use of marijuana in New York could soon be revealed.

The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics on Tuesday denied a request from the New York chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM-NY) to keep its donors private. The decision can be appealed, a tactic that has been a successful option for organizations initially denied an exemption.

SAM-NY contended that it should be exempt from the state’s semi-annual disclosure because its supporters would be subject to harassment and economic reprisal if they were identified.

“JCOPE’s regulations have unfortunately been manipulated to favor corporations and large national advocacy groups who hide their donors through loopholes in state laws,” SAM-NY President Dr. Kevin Sabet said.

“Existing state and federal law recognize that disclosure may cause injury to those wishing to participate in debates about our public policy and have a chilling effect on free speech,” Sabet said. “This is especially true in our case given the number of victims of drugs and those in recovery who support our organization across the country.”

In New York, social welfare organizations such as SAM-NY that engage in lobbying are required to disclose their …read more

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