An exchange with Lanny Swerdlow, founder of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club.  Lanny was responding to a complaint by Brett Stone, who runs an invaluable clipping service for marijuana legalization activists. Brett made his complaint as he forwarded an invitation to a California Cannabis Industry Association fundraiser.  Here’s the string, in chronological order.

—–Original Message—–  From: Brett Stone 

 Subject: Re: DPFCA: Join CCIA for the Ultimate Boat Bash on the High Seas

It must be nice to have $500 or more to go party on a yacht for a few hours while some of us struggle to pay rent and buy basic food. No recent events have been affordable to low income activists, it truly is all about those who have money.  I feel so disconnected from a movement I felt a part of not too long ago.


Bay Area Boat Cruise Fundraiser  Sunday August 16th, 2015

Join the boat party and support the cause at the same time!

The legislative session is in its final months and your help will ensure CCIA continues to build its political presence in Sacramento. It is with that in mind you are invited to join members of the CCIA Board of Directors for the ultimate exclusive boat bash on the high seas. Enjoy an open bar, buffet dinner and hors d’oeuvres while cruising around the San Francisco Bay at sunset.

From the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ll get to see all the sights from a two-story luxury yacht. We’ll cruise along the Embarcadero, past Fisherman’s Wharf, around Alcatraz and along Treasure Island. This is a unique opportunity to mix with the industry, get updated on this year’s legislative session.

Date: Sunday August 16, 2015

Time: 5:30pm – 9:00pm. [BOAT LEAVES AT 6PM SHARP]

Where: Pier 40, San Francisco [Meet Dock side]

Supporter Ticket cost: $500

Sponsorship opportunities:

$1500 – 4 tickets, banner placement

$2500 – 6 tickets, banner placement and a reserved table.

Please make checks out to “California Action PAC” and mail to 1225 8th St Suite 485 Sacramento, CA or buy your tickets here:

Dress code: Business casual/cocktail

[*Contributions are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes. Cannabis Action PAC may accept contributions, up to $7,000 per source, per calendar year. Contributions by foreign nationals are prohibited.]

On Jul 8, 2015, at 5:34 PM, LANNYSWERDLOW wrote:

I fully understand your anger at not having the funds to go on the yacht trip, but a major part of our problems in ending marijuana prohibition is that rich people who use marijuana do not put much money, if any, into ending it. Whether it is raising money for a political party, a church, a boys and girls club, a health program – there has always been events aimed at rich people to raise money. It could be a yacht trip, a wine tasting party at an elegant home, a concert with some big name star or whatever. Should the Boys and Girls Club event at an exclusive hotel be canceled and the Boys and Girls Club denied the funds because low income people couldn’t afford to go?

It is about time that marijuana activists are doing the same thing as schools, churches, civic organizations, symphonies, homeless shelters, the chamber of commerce and on and on and on do to raise money. Instead of criticizing them for trying to get money out of rich people, why don’t you hold an event that is cheap or free that everyone can attend. Although it may not raise much money for ending prohibition, everyone can go and have a good time and maybe do a little educating, raise some consciousness and motivate people to get involved. Or maybe you can make a bigger splash and do an occupy type event that is also free.

However, the bottom line remains though that a bunch of free or cheap events will not raise the twenty or so million dollars needed to end marijuana prohibition in California – for that you need rich people and they are far more likely to part with their money while on a yacht.

Definitely a win-win.


On July 9 Fred Gardner wrote Lanny:

You make your point very well, but I wonder what line Mary Rathbun would take.

The problem with the Rich People in our movement is that they demand —and assume— political control. Back in the ’60s, when Stokeley Carmichael asked wealthy New York liberals to provide funding for SNCC (to choose one of many specific example I could give you in memory yet green), they did so by way of SUPPORT.  It is inconceivable that Cora Weiss (or any of the civil rights movement backers) would have said “We’ll provide funding but you have to use our script when you’re registering voters in Mississippi.”  Cut to January 1996, when Ethan Nadelmann was asked by California activists to fund the Prop 215 signature drive. He said “We’ll provide funding but we’ll remove Dennis Peron as campaign manager and we’ll write the ballot arguments.” Soros et al gave —and to this day give— money by way of taking CONTROL.