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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

How The Grassroots & Independent Expenditures Can Defeat Proposition 64

Mainstream media is reporting in California that the opposition to Proposition 64 is coming from law enforcement and their campaign is poorly funded, compared to the millions already contributed by Sean Parker, George Soros and others in the billionaire boys’ club, people who have no empathy for the cannabis movement, but simply want to cash in and take over California’s cannabis industry.   What the mainstream is missing is that the primary opposition to Proposition 64, or the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), comes from within the cannabis industry itself and from patient advocates.  Spend any time on social or indy media and you will see dozens of efforts to get the word out to “Vote No on AUMA,” or “Stop Prop 64.”

The other thing the mainstream media is missing, and what seasoned activists already know, is that one does not have to form a political action committee or PAC to defeat Prop 64.  All hail the Independent Expenditure.

In California citizens are allowed to campaign and voice their support for or against a candidate or measure without forming a PAC as long as one individual spends less than $1,000.00 of his or her own funds.  This allows a citizen to run a small grassroots campaign without going through the effort of forming and filing reports for a PAC as required by law. 

A thousand dollars is generally not enough to purchase billboards or send out mailers or run a phone bank or run ads on radio or television, but it is plenty to print stickers, buttons, signs, posters and flyers or send emails or run a website.  The rest is volunteer time.  Here are some simple rules. 

1.) You are not allowed to take in funds for an independent expenditure campaign.  You can only spend your funds not to exceed $1,000.00.  Taking in funds makes your effort a recipient committee and requires you to file one once you accept $1,000.00 or more.
2.) If you distribute over a certain amount of materials, you are required to include a disclaimer with that message.  For example, distributing more that 200 door hangers, flyers, posters, and oversized campaign buttons (10” across or larger) and stickers (60 sq. in. or larger) requires a disclaimer in 14-point, bold, sans serif type in contrasting print color.  That disclaimer should read “Paid for by (your name).”

3.) For websites and emails the disclaimer statement must be in the same font size as the majority of the text and displayed conspicuously near the ad, on the site or in the message.

4.) Posting video or audio messages online requires a disclaimer.  Video messages require both written & spoken disclaimer at the beginning or end of the ad not less than 4 seconds and must be large enough to be legible to the average viewer.  Audio messages must be at least 3 seconds either at the beginning or end of the ad. 

5.) There is a difference between purely educational or conversational discussion about a candidate or measure and a political statement.  Once you venture into the territory of “Vote No on…” or “Vote For…” you are safest by following the disclaimer rules.  All of these rules can be found here:  http://www.fppc.ca.gov/content/dam/fppc/NS-Documents/TAD/Campaign%20Manuals/Manual_4/Manual_4_Ch_9_Ad_Disclaimers.pdf

California is still getting caught up with the use of social media for political purposes.  If you have any questions about independent expenditures or disclaimers, contact the Fair Political Practices Commission at:  http://www.fppc.ca.gov.  Also, expenditures are cumulative, so if one works on multiple independent expenditure campaigns, it’s best to confirm your expenditures with the Fair Political Practices Commission to make sure you have not reached a point where you need to file a committee. 

So, don’t’ let anyone tell you a bad law can’t be defeated because you don’t have a lot of money or you didn’t form a PAC.  Our goal is to get everyone we know to Vote NO.  It worked in defeating Prop 19.  It can happen again… corrupt billionaires be damned. 

** This post is for educational purposes only and not intended to support or oppose any candidate, measure or committee.