FARGO - A printing shop was a busy place this week as a group opposing legalizing medical marijuana was having fliers printed - almost 350,000 of them - giving their side to the story on the issue confronting North Dakota voters in less than a month.
If residents haven't received the fliers yet, they will in the coming days as North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana campaign manager Norm Robinson said they will be going to every single family home, apartment and post office box in the state.
"I hope people take the time to read them," Robinson said. He and campaign chairman and former judge Bob Wefald have been raising money and traveling the state speaking out against Measure 3, which would legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota.
In all, the group has raised about $113,000 so far, with most of the money coming from business-related groups across the state. The effort got its start with a $25,000 donation from the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.
In contrast, the group called Legalize ND, which favors Measure 3, has only raised about $11,000.
Campaign chairman David Owen said they can't afford to pay almost $40,000 for a consultant as the main opposition group has done.
"We just have to work with what we got," Owen said. "We have to be smarter and just do it with blood, sweat and tears."
Individuals from across the state have made smaller contributions to the campaigns - under $100 - that don't have to be reported on campaign disclosure forms that were due last Friday, Oct. 5, to the Secretary of State's office in Bismarck.
As for the big donors, the Association of General Contractors of North Dakota, the North Dakota Retailers Association, Scheels All Sports and the North Dakota Petroleum Council all gave $10,000 or more to the effort to defeat the measure.
Individually, the biggest donors were Scheels owner Steve Scheel, who gave $10,000 as an individual, and western North Dakota rancher and oilman Fred Evans, of Stanley in far northwestern North Dakota, who also gave $10,000.
Even politicians got involved in the campaign against the measure, as Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem gave $1,000.
When asked why he thinks businesses are so involved in the effort, Robinson said he thinks employers would be concerned about accidents on the job.
He said it may cause a catastrophe in the oil fields, but added he thinks most companies have pretty strict drug testing right now.
Evans, in a phone interview, said he doesn't even know how the measure could get on the ballot as the drug is illegal on the federal level.
"It's a federal offense, according to our laws" to smoke marijuana, he said.
Evans believes that marijuana "messes people's minds up."
"Why would you want to promote this? I think it (marijuana) just prevents a person from reaching their full potential," he said.
On the pro-legalization side, Eric Olsen of Fargo was one of the biggest donors, giving $1,500.
The self-employed Libertarian said he can't believe how the support has grown since he initially tried to get the measure on the ballot in 2016.
"We have quite a group of people now. I run into someone almost every day that is a supporter and out trying to do things to help," he said.
Olsen said even though they don't have a lot of money, their social media presence is immense. He said the Legalize ND Facebook page has more than 10,000 followers with more asking to join every day..
"In online discussions, I would say 95 percent are in favor and most of those are young people, but not exclusively."
The question, of course, is whether the younger generation will show up at the polls. Being a non-presidential election year, the turnout is usually smaller, but Olsen believes the measure's success or failure will hinge on turnout.
Robinson said he thinks the anti-legalization vote will win, but said, "I won't quit worrying until about 10 p.m. on election night."