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Marsden says his pot proposal is still in the game

November 3, 2015

Article courtesy MIRS News Service

Despite rumors of its demise, the leader of the Michigan Cannabis Coalition (MCC) said his group’s efforts to put marijuana legalization on the ballot is still up and running.

While marijuana activist Tim BECK Thursday called it “one of the biggest mysteries I’ve ever seen,” the MCC, led by Matt MARSDEN, is apparently alive and kicking. 

“I don’t start what I can’t finish,” Marsden told MIRS in a series of texts Thursday. 

Questions have swirled about the MCC since the group began collecting signatures toward putting a marijuana legalization proposal on the ballot. The source of MCC’s support — as well as who is behind the effort — has left some watching the campaign to scratch their heads (See “Inside The Push To Legalize Pot, Funding Questions Fly,” 8/13/15). 

The MCC reported raising $78,195 between July and October, according to the most recently released campaign finance filings. But most of that came in a $75,000 check from a company called Premiere Land Services in Traverse City, submitted just a day before the filings were due Oct. 20. 

An employee with Premiere Land Services said this week the company’s leader was out of the country and could not be reached, and deferred comment to Marsden. 

Marsden told MIRS Thursday that he was on his way to pick up a check from an “Oakland County Biz man” and that his company, Revsix Data Systems, has another $100,000 ready to go for the campaign. 

Revsix has been the primary backer of the MCC effort, with scarce support from others listed on the group’s campaign finance reports (See “Marsden’s Pot Group Reports $252K Raised From His Own Firm,” 7/27/15). 

According to the most recent filings, Revsix has poured in a cumulative $402,000 over the campaign in the form of in-kind contributions. 

Beck called the MCC one of the most secretive organizations around. But Marsden said Thursday he’s been employing an “outside the box strategy.” 

“Nothing we have done or will do in this effort will fit the standard mold of ballot proposals,” Marsden said. “It is transparent and in accordance with the law.” 

One source told MIRS that the MCC’s petition gathering group, National Petition Management, had walked off the job because its bills weren’t being paid. 

Asked about this, Marsden said the MCC is collecting signatures, but hasn’t restarted paid collection efforts because it’s still validating the signatures it has already paid for. 

Lee ALBRIGHT, who runs National Petition Management, said he could not comment Thursday when asked if his company had stopped working for MCC. 

Marsden’s group had reported taking a “six-day break” back in September after collecting around 160,000 signatures (See “Marijuana Ballot Proposal Takes Breather To Evaluate Data,” 9/25/15). 

“We raised more and spent more and have more (cash on hand) than our opposition,” Marsden wrote in his text. “We paused collection by campaign decision for our own reasons.” 

Besides paying some legal bills in October, the MCC had not listed any recent expenditures in the past few months in its filings. The group spent $39,003 and raised $78,195 in the past quarter, with $67,196 left on hand. 

Meanwhile, MILegalize, the MCC’s competitor on the marijuana legalization front, raised $136,652 and spent $249,372 in the past quarter, with $54,162 left on hand (See “MILegalize’s Fundraising Outpaces Cannabis Coalition This Quarter,” 10/26/15). 

Led by Jeff HANK, MILegalize didn’t have the in-kind contribution help to bolster its efforts like the MCC, but did boast 198 different contribution sources. 

Hank said this week his group also had more money rolling in since the filing was due Oct. 20. Hank said the group is on pace to turn in signatures before the end of the year, and is shooting for some excess signatures to provide cushion beyond the required 252,523. 

MILegalize is paying for signatures as well, to the tune of $207,500, to “give Michigan voters an option,” as Hank put it. 

Hank had also alleged the MCC was out of money and not out on the streets, but Marsden said Thursday that the MCC’s “rumor mongering opponents are not the only grass roots team in the field.”

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