Does Out-of-State Cash Fund Legalization Campaigns?

Published on October 21, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020
Marijuana and Dollar notes

Where is all that campaign cash coming from?

In key legalization battleground states like Massachusetts and California, legalization opponents have claimed that out-of-state donations are funding cannabis campaigns.

Is it a fair claim?

To find out, we made a dive into a number of state campaign finance databases.

The short answer: It depends on the state. In most cases—California, Florida, and Nevada—a majority of money donated in favor of legalization has come from in-state sources. In Massachusetts, though, it’s a different story. In the Bay State, most advocacy money has come from out-of-state sources, and most opposition cash has come from within the state.

Here’s a state-by-state breakdown in some of the most important races.



In California, since 2015 the committees and PACs in support of cannabis legalization have reported a total of $27,942,132 in 644 donations. When looking at just in-state donations, Californians have generated $15,990,697.40 in 477 donations, making up around 57 percent.

For the opposition, it’s a different story. In-state money makes up only 16 percent of the total donations reported by legalization opponents. Anti-Prop. 64 groups have reported $2,049,976 in 58 total donations, with in-state donations accounting for just $345,915 of that money.


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Florida’s data is similar to California’s. The majority of money given to advocates comes from within the state. There were 8,557 donations made in support of Amendment 2, for a total of $5,507,439.65. Of that total, 76 percent, or $4,223,448.03, came from in-state sources.

The opposition in Florida has seen fewer in-state dollars flowing into their war chest. They reported 41 donations for a total of $3,430,482 raised. Only 56 percent of that 3.4 million is from the state of Florida, with $1,930,380 coming from out of state.



Things in Nevada are a little different. Las Vegas-based casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson donated $2 million to the opposition last week, which as you might  imagine, changed the No On 2 campaign’s financial picture considerably. In fact, Adelson’s contribution represents 94 percent of the campaign’s contribution total.

Advocates for Question 2 has amassed $1,088,000 via 107 donations, with 62 percent of that coming from within Nevada ($676,470). The opposition, with just 20 donations, has generated $2,120,691 in total donations. Thanks to Adelson, 99 percent of that comes from the state of Nevada.

MASS (1)


Out-of-state donations make up the majority of funds banked by Massachusetts’ campaign to legalize adult-use cannabis. Several Washington DC-based PACs, notably the New Approach PAC, have donated millions of dollars to the campaign. In total, 276 donations have brought in $3,663,270. In total, 276 donations have brought in $3,663,270. There were 50 donations from out-of-state donors reported for the advocates, but that total made up the majority of donations, with 91 percent of the 3.6 million coming from out of state ($3,323,750.00).

The opposition campaign has only generated $632,525 in 88 donations. The percentage of in-state donations totals 90 percent, as there only $61,500 was donated from outside of Massachusetts.

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Gage Peake
Gage Peake
Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
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