Marijuana Dispensary Measure Attracts Big Donors


electionbannerA committee in support of medical marijuana dispensary Measure KK on the Nov. 8 ballot in Laguna Beach received a $10,000 contribution from a Woodland Hills resident identified as Laguna Beach Joint Venture, financial disclosure filings show.

The opposition group Together Laguna Can Defeat Measure KK, led by longtime locals Joe Hanauer and Tom Davis, reported compiling a significant war chest of $29,243 in contributions for a battle to defeat the measure. Contributors to the opposition group reads like a who’s who of the town’s best-known residents.

Little is known about the proponents of Measure KK or its supporters and the filings shed little new light.

Measure KK ballot sponsors Elizabeth A. Toomey and her nephew Corey Aufhammer, both of Laguna Beach, collected enough signatures to obtain validation of the measure by the county registrar, but have relied on attorney Charnel James, of Marysville, to serve as a spokeswoman. Requests to speak to them directly through their attorney have gone unanswered.

A person claiming to be the measure’s principal proponent contacted the Indy this week and declined to identify himself, fearing the same public hostility that the initiative initially received from city officials. The South Laguna resident said he pushed the measure to allow residents access to safe, regulated marijuana dispensaries instead of the risk he thinks is associated with home deliveries.

If approved by voters, the measure would void the town’s dispensary ban and allow within city limits the first south-county medical cannabis dispensaries, which could also sell recreational marijuana if the statewide referendum passes. City and school officials oppose the measure.

The committee Laguna Locals for Safe and Regulated Medical Access, Yes on KK, lists a post office box as its mailing address on disclosure forms. Disclosure records show its sole contribution came from Laguna Beach Joint Ventures, located in a Woodland Hills home. The property owner denies any involvement in the measure and says the home is occupied by a tenant.

Jason Pitkin, who is listed as a committee principal on the documents, provides a Three Arch Bay address.

Pitkin declined to describe his affiliation with the committee when reached by telephone, but had no reservations about sharing his opinion. “The war on cannabis is a complete waste of taxpayer funds, yet we lose veterans everyday to overdoses of FDA-approved scheduled narcotics,” he said.

Inside the ShowGrow dispensary on Gertrude Place in Santa Ana.
Inside the ShowGrow dispensary on Gertrude Place in Santa Ana.

“No one’s died from a marijuana overdose,” said Pitkin, who said he isn’t a veteran, but declined to answer further questions.

Measure KK’s treasurer, Jeneve Slater, is the principal of Campaign Compliance Group Inc., based in Irvine. Slater’s clients include federal candidates and political action committees, including Dana Rohrabacher and the Lincoln Club.

Financially, KK’s biggest opponents include Visit Laguna Beach, the city’s promotion arm, which contributed $5,000 to the anti-KK campaign, and did residents Louis and Laura Rohl and Kristin Henry, filings show.

Other major anti-KK backers include Morris and Stephany Skenderian as well as Jane and Joe Hanauer, who each contributed $1,000. Incumbent council member Bob Whalen and his wife Kirsten donated $500 and incumbent council member Rob Zur Schmiede contributed $200, filings show.

“Measure KK is not about genuine medical needs or even pot – it’s about a few determined outside operators securing huge cash profits,” says the website.

David R.Welch

The measure’s third section states it can be amended by a majority vote of the council, pointed out Los Angeles attorney David R. Welch, who helped draft KK. “The last thing you want to do is to take local control away,” he said.

Other campaign disclosure filings filed with the city clerk last week show that Whalen leads the four-way race for City Council, at least in contributions, with $38,153 collected through Sept. 24.

Challenger and former council member Verna Rollinger is second in the contest for money with $27,475 in year to date contributions. Incumbent City Council member Toni Iseman contributed $360 to her campaign.

Mayor Steve Dicterow is a close third to Rollinger, with $24,133 in contributions as of Sept. 24, filings show.

First-time candidate Judie Mancuso reported $13,486 in contributions as of Sept. 24, a big jump from the $5,337 she had received in the previous July 31 filing period.

In the city treasurer’s race, challenger Anne McGraw has raised $5,725 in her bid to unseat the 17-year incumbent, Laura Parisi.

Parisi disclosed raising $3,183 as of Sept. 24, with nearly half coming from a loan she made to her own campaign.

Village Laguna, a group that aims to preserve village character, reported a cash balance of $25,100 at the reporting period starting July 1, with $10,000 in contributions this year, and a current kitty of $20,097.

This article was updated Oct. 24 with new information about a contributor to Measure KK.


Articles in the Oct. 7 and 14 editions about Measure KK inaccurately identified a supporting donor. Disclosure records show its sole contributor as Laguna Beach Joint Ventures, located in a Woodland Hills home. The property owner denies any involvement in the measure and says the home is occupied by a tenant.


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  1. This initiative is not a well thought out plan that just has as many holes as Jeff Spicoli’s note binder…
    It is only going to be here for tourists or school kids and not for local residents because any body old enough to drive or show ID is going to go out of town because it will be cheaper and better.

    Once Walmart starts selling it, forget it; it’s over, end of story.

    You think there is enough controversy just inside town among residents?
    Wait until the rest of the country and the world comes to visit.
    Some ones going to freak out and take a jump or get hit on coast highway.. and it’s bad press hay day… it will make you wish for simpler times with Laguna Beach re-runs on MTV.


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