ELEC: Nearly $2.1 Million Raised Mostly To Promote Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Murphy in Somerset

A state ballot question that would greenlight the recreational use of marijuana in New Jersey has prompted $2.1 million in fund-raising, according to reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

With the election looming Tuesday, Jeff Brindle, ELEC’s Executive Director, said supporters have raised
more than 99 percent of the funds. The latest reports reflect campaign finance activity through October 20.

“Assuming all available funds are spent, the marijuana ballot question already ranks eighth among the top ten most expensive public referenda in the Garden State,” Brindle said.

“There is virtually no chance we will see a new record this year given the nearly $27 million price tag of the 2016 referendum on a proposed casino in Northern New Jersey. It is possible this year’s ballot question may make it into the top five when the final expenses are tallied,” said Brindle.

Currently in fifth place is the successful 1985 initiative allowing simulcasting at race tracks. It cost the
equivalent of $2.4 million in 2020 dollars.

Seventeen past state initiatives seeking legalization of marijuana for recreational use have averaged $8.3
million in combined spending, according to the National Institute for Money in Politics. South Dakota, Montana, and Arizona are holding similar referenda this year.

“Keep in mind that marijuana interests already have spent $4.1 million on lobbying between 2017 and
2019. So the industry’s overall political investment in New Jersey already has topped $6 million,” Brindle noted.

While there does not appear to be significant spending on two other ballot initiatives appearing on next
week’s referendum, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey has reported spending $4,966 opposing public question three.

It asks voters to approve a two-year delay in the redrawing of state legislative districts if U.S. Census data
is unavailable by February 15, 2021.

To view reports filed by political committees involved in this year’s referendum election, go to

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