Assemblyman Dick Traini emailed leader of No on 2 campaign to coordinate backdoor lobbying effort in support of under-the-radar measure on which the public will be unable to provide comment
ANCHORAGE — The campaign supporting Ballot Measure 2, the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol, slammed Anchorage Assemblyman Dick Traini on Tuesday for colluding with the No on 2 campaign to pass an Assembly resolution he introduced in opposition to the measure. Despite Traini’s behind-the-scenes effort to encourage the political group opposing Measure 2 to lobby his fellow members, the Assembly is currently planning to prohibit the general public from commenting on the resolution, which includes several misleading and otherwise intellectually dishonest statements. See below for examples.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has obtained a September 20 email from Traini to No on 2 campaign leader Deborah Williams, in which he notified her of the resolution and said, “We need to contact every assembly member and urge them to vote yes, thanks.” Traini also forwarded Ms. Williams an official message he received September 19 from Assembly Counsel Julia Tucker informing him that the resolution had been submitted as an item for consideration during the Assembly’s September 23 meeting.
Traini, who introduced the measure, has previously helped the No on 2 group raise money at campaign fundraising events in Anchorage.
“Assemblyman Traini is flying this resolution under the radar, and he’s doing it in a fashion that raises serious ethical questions,” said Chris Rempert, political director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “I think it would be hard to argue that this is not an improper use of his official position. He introduced the resolution less than three business days before he intends to hold a vote, and his only effort to notify the public was to quietly coordinate with his cohorts at the No on 2 campaign. He has touted the need for transparency in government, but it appears he’s okay with keeping voters in the dark if he believes it will benefit him politically.”
“The resolution is dripping with intellectual dishonesty,” Rempert said. “It includes a number of questionable — and at times false — claims, and it omits any fact that contradicts them. Assemblyman Traini is stacking the deck with phony cards.”
“For the Assembly to take a position without a single work session or hearing on the issue, no public testimony whatsoever, and without seeing the outcome of the 9 month rulemaking period that will follow the passage of the initiative is wildly premature,” Rempert continued. “At the very least, you’d think they would want to hear from their constituents through the vote on November 4 before committing themselves in either direction.”
Examples of misleading statements and factual inaccuracies in Assemblyman Traini’s proposed resolution:
- It states marijuana is illegal under federal law, but fails to acknowledge the U.S. Justice Department’s August 2013 memo declaring that the federal government would not interfere in states’ efforts to regulate marijuana for adult use.
- It states that the Denver Municipal Attorney’s Office reports the city has experienced an increase in the robbery rate, but fails to mention that Denver has released crime statistics that found a decrease in robberies and other crimes from January to August 2014 compared to the same period in 2013; Denver police officials have reported no increase in crime stemming from the new marijuana laws; and that a previous analysis performed by the Denver Police Department found that marijuana businesses are robbed no more frequently than non-marijuana businesses.
- It states that all marijuana-related transactions occurring in Denver are conducted in cash, when in fact most businesses accept debit cards. It also states that taxes and licensing fees paid in cash to the city are “causing public safety issues,” yet there have not been reports of any public safety-related problems occurring. It declares code inspectors and municipal license officers are placed at greater risk in performing their routine duties, yet there is no evidence to back that up.
- It states there are “no health standards…in force for child protective packaging, warning labels, or adult service size,” but Ballot Measure 2 clearly directs Alaska’s state officials to adopt such regulations during the 9 month rulemaking period that will follow passage of the initiative. In Colorado, the legislature and state regulators have adopted strict child-proof packaging requirements and extensive labeling requirements, as well as a standard serving size for marijuana-infused products.
- It states there is a reasonable expectation that the demand for abuse and addiction resources may increase despite research that has found up to 70% of Americans in treatment for marijuana were forced into it by the criminal justice system in order to avoid more serious legal penalties. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Drug Abuse and other researchers have reported that marijuana is significantly less addictive than alcohol and tobacco. Clearly there is just as reasonable – if not more reasonable – an expectation that demand for such resources will decrease.