Monday, July 13, 2015

Open Letter to Battling Marijuana Intiatives in AZ

Hello all,

As you may know, late Friday, I was appointed to be the new deputy director for the state chapter of NORML.

I am sending this letter to some of the great leaders in the AZ marijuana reform movement who may be upset to see I was appointed to be the state deputy director for AZ NORML. I am also sending it to several others in the community to be observers. This is a tremendous opportunity for our state. I want to do my best to do it right.

I know some are concerned I am only interested in promoting my personal agenda on marijuana reform. I am writing you here, in my first official NORML correspondence, to assure you that is not the case. I am committed to improving the lives of Arizona's marijuana community in general. I am further committed to doing my best to use NORML to promote the reform movement in general and support all campaigns to the extent they want to work w me, NORML and respect each other.

Having been intimately involved in multiple campaigns, I believe I am aware of the dynamics of trying to get a message out. It is my hope that each campaign will allow me, in my capacity as NORML leadership, to promote your campaign throughout the state, carry your petitions, etc. As a notary public, I am prepared to assist ALL campaigns in processing your petitions. As a statewide representative of themost visible marijuana brand in the nation, I intend for NORML to actively spread the message of reform across the state and am already scheduling expeditions to revive or establish NORML activist groups across the state; and I heartily invite representatives from all campaigns to join me on these trips. 

BUT-- (you knew it was coming) I am establishing some ground rules for conduct, both how I will conduct myself and what I expect from others I support.

1. I will honestly work for marijuana reform throughout the state and not to advance a specific group over another unless or until NORML national changes their message of neutrality. (As I told Billy Hayes when the announcement was made, the AZFMR crowd should rejoice because this muzzles me in many ways, lol)

2. I will not slander the character of the leaders or initiative provisions in public or in private. I won't exaggerate the claims or flaws in any campaign. I will talk honestlyabout strengths and weaknesses. To be clear: I will NOT support slanderous characterizations of any campaigns (MPP will not create a corporate monopoly & AZFMR is not strictly for drug dealers; MPP is not in bed with the private prison folk & AZFMR is not out to destroy legalization in 2016; a seed is not a plant & AZFMR will not put a pot shop on every corner, to dismiss a few of the more commonly lies being spread). We do ourselves and marijuana in general a disservice when we behave like that. Such hyperbole clouds the issue and drives the general public away. 

3. I will share what resources I can generate for the overall project of reform with all legitimate groups according to my resources and their need and their conduct.

4. PLEASE contact or reply to me directly and soon with any questions, any time. (That offer is not hyperbolic, btw. I intend to continue my office hours, 8a-12a, and take calls and texts during overtime hours--that REALLY does mean 24/7, if I can't take your call, I will take your message.) Call, text, email, direct FB message. I try to not get involved in chat-stream flame-wars, so contact me directly with concerns.Marijuana is suposed to make us happy, so we should stop fighting in public. Let's not hang each other up as straw men on chat walls for the public to pillory. The public only has so much energy and attention, why waste it pointing them as weapons at each other when we have a far greater enemy to face?

5. While, as a history teacher, I would not encourage a person to forget the past; I am ready, and encourage us all, to forgive.

Those of you who have worked with me know that I will want to act now, act quickly, and act often. Now that the AZFMR campaign is ready to collect signatures, it is time to start getting their petitions distributed along w the MPP's so the public can have a choice. I also would like to have a sit-down bringing the leaders of the various campaigns together for an organizational meeting to see how the campaigns can work together, instead of tearing each other apart.

Let's do that this week.

I am reaching out with good will, good faith and forgiveness considering the various riffs. Please join me and we WILL reform marijuana laws in 2016.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Legalization Update 2/20/15: Ten Things to Know about MPP’s Newest “Final” Draft

1.       It’s NOT final. In the rush to have the fastest kneejerk in the west various marijuana activists have been trying to exploit insider connections to provide the activist community w the supposed latest “final” version of MPP’ ballot measure draft before it gets filed. This “final draft” was leaked late Sunday afternoon, online before evening was out and officially refuted as “final” before coffee-break Monday morning. It does reflect substantial revisions from the draft of 1/26/15, most of which are good news for Safer AZ’s mission. Industry leaders however still have much to settle in establishing the regulatory structure.
2.       It’s Still Homegrown. Despite concerns over polling, MPP has consistently stuck to their commitment to personal grow rights. The numbers look like this: 6 plants per person, 12 per household. You get to keep all the marijuana produced on the premises as well, so this means in all practicality, marijuana possession levels will be only related to public possession, since all the marijuana on one’s property could have been produced in earlier grows. With the possibility of limited cultivation licenses in the fee schedule, anyone whose thumb isn’t green enough w 12 plants should be able to buy their way into the industry. But don’t kid yourself, compliance regulations for marijuana establishments are designed to weed out the illegal and inept. Bartering between friends will be legal however, so the desires of most backyard gardeners will be protect. Beyond that, hey, get a license.
3.        It’s No Gamble. After being roundly rejected by most quarters of AZ’s marijuana community (activists and industry-types alike) the proposal that adult use marijuana licensing should be run through the Dept. of Gaming is scrapped. Licensing will continue in DHS (Dept. of Health & Human Services) till July 1 of 2018, when all marijuana licensing, medicinal and adult use, will be regulated by the newly created, Dept. of Marijuana.
4.       It’s Bullet-Proof. One of the biggest challenges to creating citizens’ initiatives in AZ is creating a set of rules that have to fiddle-proof to prevent legislators of various intentions from being able to make substantial changes to the program, yet supple enough to adjust to actual unforeseen complexities of governing such an industry. Looking to the as-of-yet unassailable Clean Elections Commission structure with a non-partisan political appointment process and internal reviews procedures. The structure should be ironclad when comes to outside forces and empowered to create the complex regulatory structure that will protect consumers and not hamstring the industry as it builds itself.
5.       Is Hemp Legal? Though this ballot measure is designed to govern marijuana, an interesting development between the 1/26/15 and the 2/15/15 draft is the addition of the words “should be legal” into the paragraph in the finds section on Hemp. The earlier version of the sentence said “hemp should be regulated separately from” the more THC-laden strains of cannabis (i.e. marijuana). That passage now reads “the people of the State of Arizona further find and declare that hemp should be legal and should be regulated separately from” the THC strains of cannabis (36-2820.4) Later in the document (2822.6) it permits the state legislature to regulate and tax hemp. In the personal use and cultivation section a person’s right to “possess, produce, process, manufacturer, purchase, obtain, sell or otherwise transfer, or transport industrial hemp” is explicitly affirmed (2831.3). A lot obviously hangs on the difference between the meanings of the words “shall” & “should,” as “hemp shall be legal” v “hemp should be legal,” so for now we are asking for clarification.
6.       What is a Plant? Home cultivators around the state appreciate the distinctions between a seedling, a clone, a vegetative state plant or one in full flower. Only the later has appreciable THC levels. Currently the definitions section defines “Industrial Hemp” (2821.4) & marijuana sort of (2821.7) by identifying what it is not, for example hemp. But if hemp is defined as a low-level THC cannabis plant, what about THC-heavy strains prior to their flowering state when they are still low-level THC bearing?
7.         Forgot About Dre? One of the original concerns of Safer AZ, and the activist community as a whole, has been addressing: the damage already done to the tens of thousands of Arizonans who have been collateral damage in the War on Drugs, is still MIA. Post conviction relief, record expungement and current prisoner resentencing options are not in the language and, so far, unlikely to be added. Legislative fixes similar to Mark Cardenas’ 2014 bill HB2474 might be the only way to get justice for those whose lives are forever scarred by prohibition. Some of us can’t forget the past or that this language forgets to fix it.
8.       THC & CPS? One of the most egregious acts of AZ’s scandal ridden Child Protective Services agency has been their targeting of parents w mmj cards. Already a national epidemic, CPS agencies around the country contend that parents w marijuana charges or even mmj cards are drug dependent and neglecting their kids, no matter the reality of the circumstances. While anecdotal evidence is strong, CPS denies such evidence, but the new law should end any questions of cannabis and kids: “No person may be denied custody of or visitation or parenting time with a minor, and there is no presumption of neglect or child endangerment for conduct allowed under this chapter, unless the person’s behavior creates an unreasonable danger to the safety of the minor as established by clear and convincing evidence.” (2831.4)
9.       The No-Zone Layer. Beyond the state laws regarding the various aspects of marijuana regulation, the ballot measure clearly establishes the ability of local jurisdictions to have “local control” in regulating marijuana in their cities. While earlier drafts included provisions allowing cities to control  the transportation of marijuana in their zoning jurisdictions have been struck, cities can still regulate “the smoking, production, processing, and manufacturing of marijuana when it is injurious to the environment or otherwise is a nuisance to a considerable number of persons” (2827.2a).

10.   Schooled on “School” a final clarification from earlier drafts is that the word “school” is clarified to mean K-12 and younger educational facilities. Colleges, technical institutes and adult learning facilities would still be able to regulate cannabis on their properties, but not w the weight of felony arrest behind them.

--Mikel Weisser is the political director of Safer Arizona

Friday, February 13, 2015

Safer AZ Legalization Update 2/13/15

Safer AZ has continued to represent the AZ cannabis community at large in our negotiations with MPP on the language of their new ballot measure. The following is a result of our negotiations w MPP and with our lawyer Tom Dean’s work on the drafting committee. This updates the Feb. 8th report available here.
For an overview of the ongoing process, or specific video updates, please refer to the Safer Arizona You Tube Channel (
New Progress in Polling on AZ Personal Grow
Many know that a huge factor in shaping the language on the issue of citizens’ rights to produce their own cannabis at home was the question of how well the issue polled among the general public. While few marijuana users opposed personal grow, MPP and those investing in their ballot measure will act based on the interests of the larger Arizona voting community. With a campaign of more than $2 million at stake, it is small wonder polling was closely watched on the question.
A separate poll was done in late December, early January, that included questions on legalization, which indicated that personal grow rights would have a significant negative impact on the likelihood of passage.  The initial assertion by some was that the polling said home grow had to be cut from the language before the final draft was filed.
Update—Rob Kampia the leader of MPP has rejected the early poll results and MPP is paying for a poll that is being conducted during the middle two weeks of February. Inside track says that despite concerns in the AZ mmj industry, MPP is committed to keeping personal grow in the language at all costs. The results of the poll will be available by the end of February and the finalized language will be filed in early March at the outside.
Issues of Concern in Current Language
Following an aggressive round of public presentations, Safer AZ identified widespread support for several provisions:
What’s Good
By and large this draft satisfies many of the concerns Safer AZ had about grow rights and small business access. DUI provisions are good; citizen grow rights include possessing ALL the marijuana produced on personal premises; protections for marijuana accessory use and promotion.
But also a series of specific concerns:
What’s Bad
The shift of licensing for adult use marijuana from DHS to Department of Gaming, means a delay in new license implementation until June of 2019 and that existing marijuana establishments will have to apply for entirely separate licensing to expand into the adult market. This will prohibit new investment into both the ballot measure’s campaign and the industry. Unspecified penalties for larger possession and “intent to distribute” offenses means those charges revert to existing state statutes and remain severe felonies.
And called for revisions:

A)     keeping licensing for all marijuana establishments in the existing DHS structure
Update: responding to widespread concerns, the draft currently will retain licensing in DHS until a separate Department of Marijuana can be created.
B)      excluding adult learning facilities from prohibited locations
Update: no change in language at this time, though an AMMA case current pending before the state supreme court could rule that adult learning facilities such as colleges and trade schools could be exempted under the AMMA and similar protections could be argued here.
C)      explicitly including the limited license fee schedule in the fee section
Update: the limited cultivation license fee listing is currently scheduled to be included.
D)     raising allowable limits of possession outside of one’s residence to 2 & ½ ounces
Update: Under consideration, but a chief MPP concern has to do w accusations of interstate commerce and with out of state pot dealers tourist shopping their way across the state. There is a possibility of gaining ground on this issue.
E)      requiring housing discrimination against cannabis be explicitly written into housing leases:
Update: Under consideration
F)      listing penalties for larger possession (greater than one ounce) and “intent to distribute,” and having those penalties be misdemeanors. Doing business without a license should result in civil penalties, not criminal ones.
Update: Misdemeanor penalties for possession up 2lbs in public is under consideration. Personal cultivation possession rights imply unlimited possession of marijuana has been cultivated on premises. There will be no extension of protections for unlicensed sale and trafficking of marijuana. Sharing between friends shall be protected.
G)     Protections from potential unreasonable local restrictions on private consumption and transportation of marijuana
Update: Under consideration, revisions limiting transportation restrictions are highly likely
H)     Remove the delay date of June 2019, allow for immediate implementation by existing dispensaries while they create their adult use establishments and let new investors have access to the market
Update: Originally revised Jan. 27 to a 12 month waiting period, the decision to keep licensing within the DHS structure is expected to reduce delays even further.
I)        Completing the spending formula for the accrued tax revenue to include: education, public health and law enforcement
Update: Under consideration

What’s Missing
1.       No protections against local jail time
Update: Being revised
2.       No provisions for expungement of existing criminal charges, current inmate resentencing option, or post-conviction relief
Update: Under consideration
3.       Language protecting home cultivators from the implied distinction between “concrete possession” and “actual possession.” An example of why this is a problem: If two people have 6 plants each and live in the same house, if the plants are co-mingled could either person be charged w possessing all 12 plants? What if a person had 12 plants at their household and was assisting someone at a separate location with their plants. Is that person now in possession of both sets of plants? This issue can be settled with some simple clarifying language.
Update: MPP asserts current protections sufficiently cover clarifications
4.       Parenting and discrimination protections similar to, though stronger than, those in the AMMA. Currently CPS can assert an automatic “neglect finding” if a parent is found with marijuana or even declares they have a medical card. We are calling for explicit protections that state “custody shall not be disturbed” for the legal possession and usage of marijuana by parents.
Update: Being revised. This specific passage has been cited for strong protections in the upcoming draft.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Safer AZ February Update

What Has Safer Arizona Accomplished Lately?
Safer AZ has consistently worked as a cooler head in the ongoing negotiations between the various factions involved in AZ’s marijuana movement. From dispensary lawyers to disabled vets, Safer AZ has listened to all sides and tried to bridge gaps when possible. Our commitment to communications is helping break the paranoia cycle that so often cripples negotiations.

According to the national news service, Alternet, Safer AZ is serving as the effective voice of AZ’s cannabis consumer community and has flexed enough muscle to make even the mighty MPP pay attention to our demands.
Since launching our new season on January 8:

Safer Arizona went to Kingman and challenged Matforce in Mohave; and on the same day had our season kick-off event in Tempe

Safer organized a major demonstration at AZ state capitol which got nationwide attention and scooped statehouse opening day coverage in 10 separate articles.

Safer AZ created 4 large scale pro-marijuana prop signs, including a legalization sign signed by 100s in the first month alone. In addition we have amassed the materials for 100s more signs. All we need is the labor.

Our “Safer Bowl Sunday” literally touched tens of thousands of football fans when we set up at the Glendale Ave entrance to Cardinal Stadium. Hundreds posed w our signage including Glendale PD and countless Seattle Seahawks fans thrilled to see our pro-marijuana display.

Safer AZ developed a calendar of legislative activities w 4 full-scale meetings w state legislators and introductory meetings with another 15 more. All in all Safer Arizona has now met w 27 legislators so far this session and is actively scheduling meetings for any citizen wanting to meet w their own representatives or senator.

Operating as registered lobbyists, Safer Arizona represented the interests of small mmj entrepreneurs at the state capitol, w representatives of various Indian nations, at Tempe City Council, at the statewide convention of the Democratic Party, and in the press in multiple articles.
Safer AZ and our lawyer, Tom Dean, meet multiple times w MPP to negotiate language of new ballot measure. Dean gets a seat in the drafting committee to represent our interests.

Safer made presentations to 9 different groups on MPP’s new ballot measure, including presentations to groups of 20+ in Prescott Valley, Glendale, PHX, & Tempe and filmed a summary for You Tube.
Safer AZ does weekly tabling at the Saturday 710 Lounge farmers’ market and the Sunday farmers’ market at Lax Life also. Twice a week Safer is in the heart of the PHX cannabis community, sharing information and making presentations.

Safer AZ took actions to protect the homeless population in Tucson and intervened in a human trafficking incident.

Safer AZ coordinates w Hemp Our World and their new executive director, Michael Jacobs, to get their new hemp ballot measure campaign up and operational.

Safer AZ begins negotiations to promote and distribute two cannabis documentaries: Culture High (214), What If Cannabis Cured Cancer (2010). Currently plans are in the works for a showing of Culture High in PHX at Film Bar, in Tucson, & Tempe.  We have been provided w copies of What If … by the director’s estate for our fundraising and educational projects. Briefly we were involved in pre-production on a documentary on the AZ movement, but that fell through.

Separately Safer AZ produced a series of instructional You Tube videos on various topics over the past month, including breakdowns on bills at the statehouse and MPP’s current draft of their legalization initiative.

Safer AZbegan developing a national network of cannabis political activist groups, including leaders in Kentucky, Georgia, Idaho & Oklahoma, to create a national grassroots coalition to provide nationwide help for state level legalization activities.

Safer AZ sold another 100 tee-shirts and is placing an order for 150 more.

Safer AZ created satellite activist groups in Buckeye, Yuma and Prescott Valley, while greatly expanding our footprint in the PHX metro area.

Safer AZ amassed a core volunteer base of 25 dedicated workers committed to spending 4 hours or more per month on our projects.

Safer AZ staff have taken certified training courses in Marijuana production.

Safer AZ has undergone a major website rebuild.

Safer AZ has begun providing a “Shark Tank” experience for budding cannabis entrepreneurs, now helping 4 separate innovators prepare their cannabis-themed products for market.


Safer Arizona Reviews MPP’s Current Draft of Their Legalization Initiative

A You Tube video summary of this draft is available here:

Having attempted to run our own ballot measure during the 2014 election cycle and being intimately aware of the problematic 2010 MPP AMMA Prop 203 campaign, we at Safer Arizona took a very keen interest in MPP’s progress. Our community instructed us to hold to 3 criteria: home-grow rights, basic civil rights protections & small business opportunity.  Safer Arizona is lucky to have our lawyer, the nationally renowned Tom Dean, represent us on the drafting committee. Dean was able to prepare extensive notes for the committee on aligning their proposed language with existing state statute. The draft we are reviewing here is the 3rd or 4th draft depending on how one judges such things in a constantly evolving document. The document is currently referred to as Title 36, Chapter 28.2.

Disclaimer: The summary below is in no way all inclusive and represents the opinion of Safer AZ staff.

Findings (2820) The initiative will amend existing state laws regarding marijuana found in sections ARS13-3401 & 3405. The Findings section (essentially a section explaining the philosophy and intentions of the law) asserts that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol and “individuals will possess the right to produce a limited amount of marijuana for use personal use.” This support of personal grow rights is woven throughout the text of this draft. It goes on to explain the legislation’s strategy includes regulated “marijuana establishments” that can cultivate, process, distribute, test and sell marijuana.

Definitions (2821) The Definitions section has some extremely important points to note: 1) The new adult use regulatory program will be under the Department of Gaming (2821.3). This is a significant shift from the existing medical dispensary licensing program with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS)—more on that below in the “What’s Bad” section following the summary.
2) Marijuana is defined by what it is not, rather than what it is 2821.7). The most important of these distinctions is that Marijuana is not industrial hemp. Industrial Hemp (2821.4) is defined as plants from “the genus cannabis and any part of such plant” with a THC level of less than .03%. This is significant because most all cannabis plants from the mildest indica to the most potent sativa have a THC level of less than .03% until they reach the flowering stage. This means that only mature THC bearing plants will matter on plant count. Marijuana is also NOT the weight of other ingredients in various edibles and preparations or “marijuana accessories.” Marijuana accessories include “any equipment, products, or materials of any kind” for marijuana cultivation, processing or consumption. This means an end to arrests for paraphernalia. Lastly the definitions also explain the term, “Unreasonably impracticable,” meaning that marijuana establishments will not be subjected to regulations that are so extreme as to make impossible for a reasonable businessman to conduct reasonable business.

Limitations (2822)
Of course there will still be limitations as to what a person can do with marijuana: No operating a motor vehicle or consuming inside the passenger compartment of one, unless it is in the living quarters of an RV or something similar. No distributing marijuana to anyone under 21, no marijuana in correctional facilities or schools (though we are calling for excluding adult learning facilities, such as colleges and cosmetology schools). No use of marijuana when it constitutes “negligence or professional malpractice.” Employers and landlords will still be allowed to discriminate against marijuana users in employment and housing. Of note: this section includes the disclaimer that this law will not affect the provisions or protections of the AMMA. The most important passage here is the reminder that a person will need a license to do marijuana business. This is a reminder that there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to enter the industry.

Rulemaking (2823)
Marijuana establishments will still be required to have security and surveillance equipment on site and be able to track their inventory. There will be a requirement for marijuana testing and labeling: solvents, pollutants, THC, CBD and dosage per package. The state will create a “statewide license class system” for licensing both unlimited and limited permits for cultivation, processing, distributing, selling or testing marijuana. This section explicitly states that the lower level license shall not exceed 1/3 of the cost of the unlimited licenses. Consumers will not be required to present personal information other than proof of age to purchase marijuana and no records are to be kept or reported of a person’s purchases.

Local Control (2824)
Local governments (county and city governments) will still have power to regulate marijuana in their jurisdictions, but cannot create rules that are “unreasonably impracticable.” Currently this section also includes the line that localities may enact rules restricting “consumption, production, processing, manufacturing, and transportation of marijuana.” We are calling for a change in this language to remove the word “transportation” and add the word “public” to consumption. If different jurisdictions could restrict transportation of marijuana then how could the average consumer keep track of the maze of conflicting jurisdictions on the highways?

Licensing (2826)
Marijuana establishments are still prohibited within 300 of churches and schools. Licenses will be awarded on merit, not random selection; one establishment cannot hold multiple licenses in an area if it prohibits competition. Ex-felons can apply for licenses after five years.

Licensing Fee Schedule (2826.1)
The fee for being an unlimited cultivator is $30,000 (limited license is $10,000), renewal is $10,000. There are also new and renewal license fees for processing, retail sales, distribution, and testing. Of note, it goes on to say that if the state does not create sufficient regulations and implementation in a timely manner, then applicants can apply directly to their localities for licensing.

Operating Requirements (2827)
The biggest change here is a lowering of the requirements for outdoor cultivation security. Fencing will now need to be 8 feet tall and marijuana operations must not be visible without “binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids.” As expected, all marijuana establishments will be subject to inspection.

Personal Use and Cultivation (2828)
No more civil forfeitures, consumers may purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at a time or 5 grams of concentrate (we are calling for higher limits) and transfer marijuana between friends. A person can grow 6 plants and a household a total of 12. Keeping in mind what is defined as a marijuana plant, this should cover most patient needs. A key protection in this section is the line that “a person shall not be penalized solely because of the presence of metabolites” in their system. Another protection is the reminder that a person shall not be punished in any way for hemp.

Marijuana Accessories (2829)
The possession manufacture, sale and promotion of marijuana accessories shall not be prohibited.

Lawful Operations (2830)
This is a reminder that cultivating, processing, selling, distributing and/or testing marijuana shall be legal if a person or business has the proper licensing and employees shall not be subject to criminal charges.

Identifying Underage Persons (2831)
The Marijuana legalization movement must protect itself against the continuing allegations that our efforts imperil youth. This section is a reassurance that the new law will work to prevent underage people from getting access to marijuana. It does specify however that youthful offenders will get community service, not jail time, if they are caught smoking.

Penalties (2833)
As one could imagine, this section is the most controversial passage in the draft. On the plus side, it does set almost all penalties at misdemeanor or less (the exception is for chemical extraction of concentrates without a license). On the negative side it does not spell out the penalties for possession over one ounce or “intent to distribute.” Since these penalties are not specified here, statute would revert to existing marijuana rules (ARS13-3405) and these offenses (and any others not specified in the new language) would be considered felonies. We urgently call for correction in this section.

Marijuana Fund (2834)
This section is still underwritten and does not clearly specify where the moneys generated from marijuana will be spent. Safer AZ is recommending the Department of Health (since we want this to stay in DHS), Dept. of Ed, and law enforcement subsidies, since law enforcement will face a tremendous decrease in their budgets with impending cuts in their marijuana enforcement budgets.
This ballot measure also amends state statute regarding the illicit drug schedule (ARS13-3401) and establishes a 15% tax on marijuana sales

What’s Missing
1.       No protections against local jail time
2.       No provisions for expungement of existing criminal charges, current inmate resentencing option, or post-conviction relief
3.       Language protecting home cultivators from the implied distinction between “concrete possession” and “actual possession.” An example of why this is a problem: If two people have 6 plants each and live in the same house, if the plants are co-mingled could either person be charged w possessing all 12 plants? What if a person had 12 plants at their household and was assisting someone at a separate location with their plants. Is that person now in possession of both sets of plants? This issue can be settled with some simple clarifying language.
4.       Parenting and discrimination protections similar to, though stronger than, those in the AMMA. Currently CPS can assert an automatic “neglect finding” if a parent is found with marijuana or even declares they have a medical card. We are calling for explicit protections included that state “custody shall not be disturbed” for the legal possession and usage of marijuana by parents.

What’s Good
By and large this draft satisfies many of the concerns Safer AZ  had about grow rights and small business access. DUI provisions are good; citizen grow rights include possessing ALL the marijuana produced on personal premises; protections for marijuana accessory use and promotion is a real breakthrough; as is the protection from false weights on marijuana preparations and edibles.

What’s Bad
The shift of licensing for adult use marijuana from DHS to Department of Gaming, means a delay in new license implementation until June of 2019 and that existing marijuana establishments will have to apply for entirely separate licensing to expand into the adult market. This will prohibit new investment into both the ballot measure’s campaign and the industry. Unspecified penalties for larger possession and “intent to distribute” offenses means those charges revert to existing state statutes and remain severe felonies.

A)     keeping licensing for all marijuana establishments in the existing DHS structure
B)      excluding adult learning facilities from prohibited locations
C)      explicitly including the limited license fee schedule in the fee section
D)     raising allowable limits of possession outside of one’s residence to 2 & ½ ounces
E)      requiring housing discrimination against cannabis be explicitly written into housing leases
F)      listing penalties for larger possession (greater than one ounce) and “intent to distribute,” and having those penalties be misdemeanors. Doing business without a license should result in civil penalties, not criminal ones
G)     Protections from potential unreasonable local restrictions on private consumption and transportation of marijuana
H)     Remove the delay date of June 2019, allow for immediate implementation by existing dispensaries while they create their adult use establishments and let new investors have access to the market
I)        Completing the spending formula for the accrued tax revenue to include: education, public health and law enforcement

We recommend the AZ cannabis community accept this draft as a reasonable opening offer on the part of MPP to show it values our concerns. MPP and members of the dispensary industry are already contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the legalization movement. Safer AZ urges the activist community to also consolidate our funds, along with our recommendations to leverage MPP to incorporate our values and concerns into their final language. To this end, Safer AZ reminds readers that we are a 527 political action committee able to take unlimited donations for or against a ballot measure and not required to disclose our donors. Investors could invest in Safer AZ to create a pool of money to support MPP’s work, without having to directly contribute to MPP; but we are encouraging open good-faith negotiations for the time being; and will keep you posted as developments change.

Mikel Weisser, Political Director, Safer Arizona

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Safer AZ Re-files, Re-forms for 2016 Drive

For Immediate Release—

Contact: Mikel Weisser, Political Director, Safer Arizona
Safer AZ, the cannabis reform Political Action Committee behind last year’s marijuana legalization initiative, has refiled their organizational paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State’s  office to join the campaigns to legalize cannabis and hemp in 2016.  In their original incarnation, past-president Robert Clark will continue as co-chair with founder, Dave Wisniewski, for the new cycle. Mikel Weisser will serve as treasurer and continue as political director. In their recently released 2016 cycle business plan, Safer AZ announced intentions to develop a full-scale operation for 2016, complete with a paid staff and a fundraising arm of the organization. As their 2014 initiative’s author, PHX-based computer programmer, Dennis Bohlke explains, “AZ doesn’t have a drug problem, we have a political problem and this is how you solve it. We have got to stop the madness of destroying people’s lives for a plant. Everyone here is an activist. There’s no way we’re stopping now.”

Billing themselves a “full-service” cannabis political action committee, Safer AZ 2016 (new name for the new cycle) expects to be continuing with their same programs, but on a greatly expanded scale. Since filing their new paperwork on Dec. 5th, the group has already held interviews with four state legislators to discuss their legislative agenda for the upcoming 2015 session, re-launched their product line of their iconic green “MARIJUANA IS SAFER THAN ALCOHOL” tee-shirts and begun the networking and fundraising to build for the legalization 2016 push.

The controversial organization has been at the forefront of Arizona pot politics since Safer AZ made national news in June of 2013 by writing a cannabis legalization ballot measure for the 2014 election cycle, two years ahead of the nationally recognized Marijuana Policy Project’s proposed 2016 campaign. Often stuck negotiating between warring camps (pro-cannabis industry v pro-consumer, anarchist activists v political operatives, MPP supporters v AZ-only activists, just to name a few) Safer AZ’s greatest achievement may be that after two years, groups that never would have spoken to each other have formed a coalition to set an overall strategy.  

In November, six different activist organizations (Safer AZ, PHX NORML, PCC (PHX Cannabis Coalition, AZ 4NORML (Tucson based), SSDP (Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, both the ASU & the U of A chapters), RAMMP (Registry of Arizona Medical Marijuana Patients) & the Human Solution) formed the AZ’s Cannabis Consumer Coalition. Represented by nationally renown cannabis criminal defense lawyer Tom Dean, the group is participating in the lawyers-only drafting process that will create the 2016 ballot measure.

Originally founded by David Wisniewski, a tech savvy active duty soldier then-stationed in South Korea, and three other far-flung Arizonans (Tucson’s Clark, PHX based Bohkle and Weisser in Kingman), Safer AZ operated as a totally volunteer organization. Strong on ideas, though weak on resources, the upstart political action committee’s four principles soon began an ambitious agenda with supporters around the state signing up to join the movement.

Wisniewski built an online community through the PAC website and Facebook page that soon grew to have thousands or followers nationwide.  Bohlke and Clark organized dozens of activists and taught them to collect signatures. Weisser joined PHX-based cannabis activists, holding demonstrations, creating 420 focused musical fun-raisers, giving rallying speeches and “movement status reports” for all the trendy 420 groups, in addition to conducting a series of legislative interviews and demonstrations at the state capitol. Safer AZ leadership also served as the go-to voice of AZ cannabis reform, appearing in numerous clips on PHX and Tucson local news channels and talk radio stations, as a recurring subject for the PHX New Times, and even in articles by the New York Times and Huffington Post.  

One Safer AZ idea, “The Harm Reduction Measure,” was picked up by Democratic West Valley legislator, Mark Cardenas (LD-19) and introduced as HB2474. If passed, the bill would have amended state statutes on marijuana arrests. Currently ARS 13-3405 requires that all marijuana related arrests begin as felony arrests. Cardenas promises to revisit the idea in the upcoming legislative session. “I’m getting my bills together and we already have legislative counsel on it. It was a good idea, it’s still a good idea,” Cardenas says.

Early attention and accolades did not sustain the volunteer based group’s base of activists, however; and even the central four only had so much time in a day. As Weisser explains, “We all worked on the parts we liked and no one worked enough on central organization. We all had full-time commitments already. Dave was in the Army. I mean gee, give the guy a break. Dennis runs a computer company, I was running for Congress. Robert has health issues. Nobody had the time to work on it full-time. We rarely worked on fundraising and you can only do so much w zero budget.” The group eventually pulled their initiative in June of 2014 vowing to continue building on their gains and re-launch at the turn of the election cycle. True to their word, Clark, Weisser and Wisniewski were at the counter with the AZ Secretary of State’s elections office with new paperwork on the first day of the new cycle.
 Listed by the IRS as a 527, Safer Arizona’s new AZSOS designation calls it “an organization supporting or opposing a ballot measure.” Though one of the loudest voices on cannabis and hemp reform in the state, the group will not be introducing their own initiative this round. MPP of AZ does not expect their measure to be completed until February and HOW of Arizona, a Gilbert-based group of first-timers led by Christian Carrasco has already filed their hemp-only initiative and though they have begun working with Safer AZ leadership on strategy.
 “While we are not actually filing the petitions for the ballot initiatives, these are issues we have been promoting,” explained PAC co-chair, Robert Clark. “We are working with the committees running these initiatives to help them with the organizing and getting out the message. AND, to make sure we’re getting language that we like. But there is a lot more to making marijuana legal than just writing a bill and that’s where we come in.”

For more information contact Safer AZ:
Mikel Weisser

Saturday, December 13, 2014

University of Kentucky Post-Election Candidate Survey Excerpts

I don’t know about you dear readers, but in many ways now five weeks since election day, I am still trying to figure out what to make of my recent campaign. As a choice that controlled my life for the past two years, I knew I should take an opportunity to reflect now that it is over; and as I opened my mail today, that chance came my way, when I found a letter that started like this:

Dear 2014 candidate for public office:
My name is James K. Hertog. I'm an Associate Professor of 
Media Studies at the University of Kentucky
. My students and I are researching a set of critical issues for American political campaigns. We have developed a survey asking candidates like yourself about your personal and professional experiences campaigning for public office and your evaluation of the campaign process.

While the majority of the survey was multiple choice and other forms of putting check marks in boxes, there were a few essay answer opportunities and after I realized I was waxing eloquent and investing well over a 1000 words talking about the campaign, I decided I could turn this into a chance to check back in w you, campaign followers, and tell you how it looks from this end. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you saw the campaign from a different angle.
What made this social media platform the most effective for your campaign?
As a poor campaign we depended heavily on grassroots word of mouth and the tribal drums these days are the heartbeat of Facebook, or something like that. Using Twitter to drive my Facebook, I could build a message on the campaign blog that passed through several platforms: survey reply-->blog post-->website update-->twitter post-->Facebook personal page-->Facebook campaign page & shares-->campaign email. Since I had no staff, multi-purposing every task was critical. Further since we could share easily info w like-minded activists and organizations (NORML, PDA & DFA, for example), social media served as a primary communications line in the campaign as well, more often than email.
Please use the following text field if you would like to expand on your answers to the previous questions about campaign communications, to illustrate them with experiences from your campaign, or to identify additional communication methods you employed.
Social media is the chance for poor campaigns to achieve larger results. The plutocrats who run this country are doing all they can to maintain their powers but our social media can equal their mass media if the current trends continue. I work to make this so, before they consume us all. Of note, one of my platform issues, cannabis reform, has become my personal central issue and I am now the executive director of Safer Arizona, the state's leading cannabis PAC.
If you would like to expand upon your answers, to provide examples from your campaign experience, or to identify additional critiques of news coverage you think should be included in this study please use the text box below.

Despite creating a credible sized campaign which received endorsements from prominent national and statewide organizations, the media consistently ignored press releases and repeated requests for coverage. In my hometown of Kingman, AZ the local paper made clear they would not cover Democratic events and a radio station owner cursed out the state party rep once over her sending him a press release. The two times I was discussed in national news once was to insult the color scheme of my website (, or to comment on how hard it was for liberal candidates to ge coverage. Lastly, despite years of steady, rational, professional work on cannabis reform, when the press got a hold of my cannabis advocacy they marginalized me as far as they possibly could. Check the bias in this from AZ most celebrated "Liberal" press:

Please describe the nature of talk radio coverage your campaign received.
I was the liberal thrown to the right wing talk radio listeners for a couple of radio stations in the state. In particular, a gun oriented talk show had me on twice, for four full hours, debating gun policy. Another couple of general right wing shows had me on. I was also on internet radio to a lesser degree and can't clearly identify any impact it might've had beyond a momentary blip.
Please describe the nature of social media coverage your campaign received.
My twitter following grew by a couple 100 and my FB following by over a 1000 during this cycle. Since I am a leader in the state's leading cannabis PAC and the Democratic party and other activist groups I got to cross-pollinate and get the members of the different communities working together on Facebook and then in-person. I am still using the same principles and hoping to expand ever further.
All in all, what level of knowledge would you say voters had about your candidacy?
•             Voters were only slightly informed about my relevant qualifications and/or positions (closest answer of choices available)
Please use this space if you would like to add any comments regarding what influenced voter knowledge concerning your candidacy.
$$$--media told me early on if I had money they would follow my efforts and then ignored my every effort to earn their attention.
For you, personally, would you say that the experience of running for public office was:
Very Positive
What did you find most personally rewarding about running for office?
The personal relationships and connections created such deep and interesting experiences. My congressional district is larger than most states and required much time on the road, being an extremely poor campaign we depended on the kindness of supporters and stayed in dozens of places from mansion guest suites to trailer couches and slept on the floor more than once. The people I met and who supported me were as varied as their houses and we had extraordinary adventures. I also developed a statewide circle of pet supporters as well and being greeted w a wagging tail when you are road weary and far from home is very comforting.
What did you find most difficult or upsetting about running for office?
The tug of war between time spent was the greatest conflict I faced. In the field or time spent fundraising? Home town or on the road? Cannabis reform or appeal to moderate dems? All decisions made opponents for me and over the course of the election often both sides of a coin caused me conflicts. As an entertainer prior to going into politics, we often joked that my performances were too sacred for the profane and too profane for the sacred and it often felt that way. I was very focused on a populist workingman uprising message for example, I wore construction worker clothes in the same way western styled politicians in AZ will adopt cowboy garb. I was a plumber until 35 so I felt it was credible for me to represent the working poor; but I received continuous backlash from traditionalists who felt a candidate should appear elevated. One of my lines about my clothes was "I didn't come here to play dress up" and another was "We have got to stop looking for new leaders who replicate the imagery of our oppressors." While it helped me w the general public and was actually a strategy crafted by me and state party leadership, local leaders who saw themselves as party insiders fought me on this relentlessly. I guess that was the ultimate difficulty: the gap between the support I could get at different levels, but not all levels of the party.
What would you say were your campaign's most significant accomplishments? Please do not limit your answer to electoral success.
The biggest accomplishment was the road schedule. We traveled over a 1000 miles a week most of the past two years, well over 100,000 miles in the cycle. It took 9 different vehicles to accomplish this including 7 straight weeks of various rental cars. This required developing a network of supporters and donors beyond the hobby campaign of the typical outmatched place-marker underdog. Any month's thank you list would include over 100 people I had had personal and important moments with, the scope of the experience is still staggering. In the process we developed the respect of a couple of national groups, DFA, PDA & Blue America, and PDA's national endorsement. Statewide we gained the support and gratitude of state party leadership and grew to be welcomed among party leaders and my fellow candidates as well. As one writer (with only 3 guest columns out of 101 blog posts) and illustrator, I maintained a website and blog for two years straight with all original content and artwork. As for constituent services or "case work," I took great joy in helping about a 12 people who came to me for help the way they would've gone to the congressman's office. I learned several referral networks and frequently felt fulfilled the way I had when I had run the help desk at a homeless while in grad school. Lastly I want to note that the greatest accomplishment of the campaign was the fact we could accomplish so much on so little funding. My wife ran our accounting and our family went from a $70,000 a year budget to food stamps and yet we still created a full scale congressional campaign out of thin air and about $36,000. I spent hardly 3 hours a week on average raising money and yet we were everywhere. That is why the road schedule was so impressive.
If you wish to provide additional recommendations or comments concerning how to improve electoral campaigns please type them here.
As a congressional candidate I signed a pledge to support a Constitutional amendment to end corporate sponsorship and another to call for federally funding of elections.

--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of arizona

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Safer AZ Status Report: Dec. 7, 2014

Safer AZ is proud to announce we have re-filed our campaign committee paperwork for the 2016 election cycle and will be working with Arizona’s aligned cannabis activist groups on a statewide campaign to legalize marijuana in AZ in 2016. As a political action committee (PAC ID No. 201400153) Safer AZ led the state’s cannabis reform community with our own 2014 legalization campaign and successfully shaped cannabis-related legislation at the state house in last year’s session. In addition we created, or helped create, dozens of events around the state, developed an online community of nearly 5000 activists and frequently served as a voice that the media turned to for a breath of marijuana sanity to counter the toxic propaganda of folks like Bill Montgomery or Sheila Polk.
But, as a PAC, during the 2014 election cycle, Safer AZ was greatly limited in resources: essentially the part-time work of 4 independent organizers hundreds, even thousands of miles apart, Safer could not develop the resources necessary to complete our election goals and had to suspend our petition drive in June of 2014. We knew we had to re-organize. After the election, Safer AZ leadership had a choice: allow all our progress to come to an end once we filed our final Federal Elections Commission report on December 4th, OR, re-file our campaign and fight on. With the voices of the community calling for action and the support of the premiere national cannabis-reform organization, MPP (the Marijuana Policy Project), and the six other leading AZ cannabis activist groups in the state, Safer AZ is back and we’re bigger than ever.
Once again Safer AZ is committed to:
1.       Public Advocacy: Safer AZ is a voice for the public with a web, media and public presence, creating demonstrations and events around the state; helping patients and others in the community get their stories heard.
2.       Social Media Communications: With a Facebook following of nearly 5000 and an average weekly readership over 3500, Safer Arizona can create and has led email and phone call campaigns. Our Facebook page serves as a nexus for various activists and groups to spread word of their own activities.
3.       Legislative Action: Safer AZ successfully introduced a cannabis decriminalization bill at the AZ state house last session and we are focused on developing the relationships w state legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, and that includes keeping the larger community informed of statehouse developments.
4.       Electoral Watchdog: Through our web pages, Safer AZ has tracked both elected officials and candidates’ positions on cannabis related issues, creating district level maps so voters can support pro-cannabis issues at the ballot box and provided contact info for candidates and officials so you can make your voice heard. 
5.       Counter-Propaganda Force:  In AZ, the anti-cannabis community and the leaders of the state prosecutors and law enforcement have banded together to power an anti-cannabis media campaign through their organization, Matforce. Safer AZ is committed to challenging Matforce propaganda both through our web presence and in person; by helping local activists organize counter-protests and court support for cannabis defendants in conjunction w the Human Solution. We provide speakers to various civic organizations, public debates, and news media needing a quote from an authoritative source to challenge Matforce whenever and wherever possible.

And most importantly,
6.       Cannabis Activist Volunteer Organization: Over the past 2 yrs, literally hundreds of Arizonans have joined our cause and volunteered--in their community, online, and at the state capitol. As the 2016 campaign becomes more visible, Safer AZ can serve a volunteer nexus, connecting newcomers to existing local groups, creating activist-business partnerships and training would-be activists to become their own community leaders. We have activists across the state and can show local groups how to take on their own community challenges and help change the culture of prohibition. Creating quality experiences for AZ activists will build our movement and change the state.

You can make a difference today:

1.       Wear your “Marijuana is Safer Than Alcohol” tee-shirt in public whenever, wherever possible. It is an amazingly effective way to promote education and will lead to exciting positive teaching and sharing experiences you would not imagine.  
2.       Host an awareness event in your home or in  your community
3.       Letter writing to your local media and elected officials and to state and federal officials
4.       Creating a 420-friendly entertainment event in your community
5.       Attending and staffing demonstrations and events in the PHX area
6.       Representing Safer AZ and the cannabis reform community at public events and debates
7.       Manning a Safer Arizona booth at community events
8.       Collecting signatures
9.       Share on social media
10.   Connect us to your family and friends so we can expand our reach.
11.   Attend a local political meeting or elected officials meetings
12.   Make $5 monthly donation
13.   Take leadership position in organizing and training others in your area after you’ve worked w us a while.

MOVEMENT UPDATE (Dec. 6, 2014):

Following the Nov. 4th election, AZ’s leading cannabis activists groups announced the development of a new cannabis activist super-group, the Cannabis Consumer Coalition, to ally the activities of th e different groups cannabis consumers, as separate from the cannabis, hemp, and medical marijuana industries. These groups and members of the dispensary industry are working w the central campaign committee, MPP of AZ, which will run the ballot initiative and coordinate efforts w MPP national. The overall campaign is expected to cost $3.2 million over the next two years. An informational meeting explaining the overall strategy was held in Tempe’s Purple Haze House (27 West Baseline) which brought different activist groups together in a semi-formal setting for the 1st time. Among the groups on hand were Safer AZ, PHX NORML, PCC (PHX Cannabis Coalition, AZ 4NORML (Tucson based), SSDP (Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, both the ASU & the U of A chapters), RAMMP (Registry of Arizona Medical Marijuana Patients) & the Human Solution. At that meeting, noted cannabis criminal defense attorney (and former NORML national legal counsel) Tom Dean presented his recommendations for amendments to existing state marijuana statutes (ARS13-3405) that will be necessary in the upcoming ballot initiative. Representing the newly formed CCC group, attorney Dean conducted a Q&A, and incorporated notes from the evening and has presented our proposed amendments to MPP of AZ to be part of the drafting process for the new ballot initiative.
In late Nov. MPP of AZ began the drafting process working w staff from the national offices of MPP, Ryan Hurley of Scottsdale-based Rose Law Firm and various pro-bono in-state volunteers. A poll is expected in January to determine public attitudes on legalization as a whole and on the hot-button topic of grow rights. Across the nation citizens’ rights to cultivate and process their own marijuana vary greatly from state to state. Following polling results, the final version of the proposed initiative should be available to the public by late February. The petition gathering campaign will kick-off in March. This campaign cycle, due to poor midterm voter turnout in the 2014 elections, the ballot initiative will require only 172,000 signatures, a decrease of almost 80,000 from the previous cycle.
The Safer Arizona 2016 cycle re-organization features the following changes:
“Staff” (w no pay yet, can you really call us “Staff”?)
Stepping sideways 2014 president Robert Clark will now be co-chair w Dave Wisniewski. In addition, Robert will continue directing Tucson and rural southeastern operations. Dave will be responsible for PHX & central AZ operations. Dennis Bohlke will step down as treasurer. Political director, Mikel Weisser will assume that role and is acting finance director as well. Three regional leaders were announced as well: Yavapai County—Mark Goodman, North Valley—Benny Ingram & West Valley—John Howlett. If you have been a volunteer w Safer AZ and are wanting to take a leadership position in your area: call 928-234-5633

Our merchandising of our green “Marijuana is Safer than Alcohol”  tee-shirts is resumed and additional products such as stickers, lighters, cups, ball-caps and our fashion-line of Safer AZ are in the works. An order will be placed 12/8/14 and will be available for the holiday season.
Our legislative agenda has begun and we are scheduling appointments w AZ state legislators for the upcoming session. We are seeking volunteers to meet w their representatives and senators and give them a true face of an AZ cannabis user instead of the twisted propaganda our opponents use to demonize us.
Timeline Projections
Dec. 4—Safer AZ completes filing final 2014 election cycle report w FEC. Safer AZ representatives kick off our legislative activities w a meeting w newly-elected AZ LD1 Rep. Noel Campbell.
Dec. 5—Safer AZ files new AZSOS paperwork for 2016 cycle and reopens bank account w new officers. Dave Wisniewski and Robert Clark will be co-chairs. Mikel Weisser will be treasurer.
Dec. 18—Safer AZ delivers our tee-shirt order in time for the holidays, re-orders including additional styles and colors as requested.
Dec. 26-30—Safer AZ sends legislative proposals to AZ State Legislature.
Dec. overall—update wufoo, paypal and merchant services, begin interview process of existing volunteer network, develop donor base and legislative agenda, establish marketing networks and operating protocols, recruit and develop staff.
Jan. 2—Mikel Weisser relocates to PHX to take over day-to-day operations.
Jan. 8—Safer AZ joins local protesters in Mohave County to attend the Matforce presentation in Kingman
Jan. 12—Open day of AZ legislature, Safer AZ holds demonstration at the capitol and assists cannabis activists in contacting their legislators while on campus.
Jan. overall—Safer AZ begins legislator interviews, radio show foundation work, expanded merchandizing and sales route development. Safer continues to assist w public input into drafting process of MPP of AZ’s 2016 initiative and expands our fundraising. Begin talks on website overhaul. Create schedule of upcoming volunteer based events and begin promoting it.
 Feb. overall--Safer AZ continues legislator interviews and assisting w public input into drafting process of MPP of AZ’s 2016 initiative, foundation work, expands merchandizing sales route. Safer continues to and expands our fundraising. Begin radio show and website overhaul. Begin volunteer training for petition collection. Launch newsletter and media campaign. Negotiates a contract w MPP of AZ to be a vendor providing petition signature collection and sundry services.
Mar. overall—Begins petition-collecting as a vendor to the campaign, adopts sales route into an organizing route and begin volunteer based petition-drives. Continue expanding previous operations.
2015 overall—develop income stream and operations network, hire and train staff, exhibit continuing robust legislative presence, collect 50,000 of projected 172,000 required signatures, assist MPP of AZ w completing signature campaign, develop radio show following, expand market for Safer AZ tee-shirts; create product line of additional Safer AZ merchandise, establish regional activist groups and ongoing educational programs, create multiple large demonstrations, create 3 profitable 420 friendly entertainment fundraisers, establish PHX storefront office and network of rural activists, expand donor base to include both numerous monthly small dollar contributions ($5-$10 recurring) and some larger dollar “angel donors.”