Here in Montana, New Approach Montana is the face of the push to legalize marijuana and put pot shops on each corner, but who is funding this campaign? Who is pulling the strings?

The pro-pot crowd has about $7 million in the bank, but upon closer inspection, we learn something interesting: Almost none of this money has come from Montanans. 99% of the money putting ads on the radio and television and sending out mailers has come from out of state.

Close to $5 million, more than two-thirds of New Approach Montana’s funding, has come from one group, North Fund. Concerningly, North Fund has no website, no social media accounts, it’s almost as if it doesn’t even exist.

Reporters from NBC Montana tried to call the group’s listed Washington D.C. office and the person who picked up the phone had never heard of the group.

When Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices told North Fund they had until September 30th to disclose their donors, they flat out refused and have been bobbing and weaving on being transparent and conforming to our state laws.

Thankfully, the COPP isn’t letting them skate by. On Monday, Commissioner Mangan requested detailed documentation of the group’s recent activities in Colorado, Washington, D.C., New Hampshire, and Missouri as well as information regarding grants the group made back in August of $25 million.

From the beginning, New Approach Montana and others pushing marijuana legalization here have been dishonest. Their own website lies when it claims that states with legal pot shops haven’t seen increases in youth use, crime, and stoned driving. Furthermore, they claim that Initiative 190 will steer pot tax revenue to state services and conservation funds. According to our state constitution, ballot measures cannot appropriate funds anywhere but to the General Fund – so yet again another lie.

Point blank, the groups spending millions of dollars to try and convince voters to expand their for-profit industry are not from here, they don’t know our laws and they don’t care about transparency. Furthermore — and more importantly – they won’t be the ones dealing with the fallout from legalization. It won’t be their children seeing pot shops and advertisements or accidentally eating pot candies, they won’t be driving on our streets with impaired drivers.

Instead, these industry folks and their investors will be counting their profits while we pay the price.

This isn’t how we do things here in Montana, and we should all see through the smokescreen. Montana voters have the right to know where the millions of dollars being spent to commercialize pot is coming from, and they deserve the right to know the truth about how marijuana legalization will affect them down the road.

Jeff Laszloffy, President/CEO

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