Aside from law enforcement organizations, the biggest donor so far to the main group opposing pot legalization in California is the trade association for the state's beer distributors. Steve Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, co-author of Marijuana Is Safer, comments:
Unless the beer distributors in California have suddenly developed a philosophical opposition to the use of intoxicating substances, the motivation behind this contribution is clear. Plain and simple, the alcohol industry is trying to kill the competition. They know that marijuana is less addictive, less toxic and less likely to be associated with violent behavior than alcohol. So they don't want adults to have the option of using marijuana legally instead of alcohol. Their mission is to drive people to drink.
Technically, the beer distributors are tied with George Adams, president of SA Recycling in Anaheim, who also recently gave $10,000 to Public Safety First, which has collected around $67,000 so far. Its other big backers are groups representing police and prosecutors. Three other groups have registered to oppose Proposition 19: Nip It in the Bud, the Committee Against the Legalization of Marijuana, and Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (splitters, presumably). None of them has reported any contributions.
By far the biggest supporter of Yes on 19, which has collected about $500,000 so far, is Oaksterdam University and its affiliated businesses, founded by medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, the measure's mastermind. The campaign has attracted an interesting array of smaller donors, including Manor Hotel President Robert Field and Men's Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer, a longtime supporter of drug policy reform. Yes on 19 has far more individual donors—hundreds of people kicking in amounts ranging from a symbolic $4.20 to thousands of dollars—than Public Safety First, which reports only three. The Drug Policy Action Committee, which also supports Prop. 19, has raised another $100,000 or so, mostly from Adam & Eve founder Phil Harvey.
I reviewed Marijuana Is Safer in the April issue of Reason.