It's by no means the weirdest thing to happen in this positively surreal 2016 election season, but it is certainly a sign of the times: A white-haired socialist presidential candidate is getting support in the form of pipes emblazoned with his image and campaign logo, with proceeds from their sale going to his campaign.
That septuagenarian class warrior is Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only presidential candidate to openly call for marijuana legalization—and to file a bill to do just that, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act.
The pot-pipes-as-political-contribution idea is the brainchild of Portland, Oregon, pipe-making artisan Ariel Zimmerman, whose Stonedware Company is offering the ceramic pipes for $60 a pop. She advertised that 10% of the proceeds would go to the Sanders campaign.
"Cast your vote for Bernie with these handmade porcelain pipes," the website entices in messaging aimed at pro-Sanders tokers like the Burners for Bernie Facebook group. "A great gift for the politicophile in your family, they'll be sure to make a great souvenir for the coming election."
The appeal appears to have worked. As of now, Zimmerman reports that: "Because of the wonderful support of the Bernie community we have reached the maximum legal donation for any donors to the Sanders campaign. All donations past the legal limit will be focused toward the charities that support girls and women in STEM and the Arts."
She's now seriously backlogged, advising anyone who orders after this week that they're not going to get their pipes until May.
As the Center for Public Integrity noted in noted, entrepreneurs expose themselves to potential risk by using candidate's names, logos or likenesses, and the Sanders campaign "doesn't authorize or condone" such volunteer fundraising. But the campaign isn't likely to go after its own supporters.
The maximum any individual, including artists, can donate to a campaign is $2,700, which means Zimmerman must have received some 650 Bernie pipe orders in the past few days. No wonder new ones are going to have to wait.
This isn't election campaign memorabilia, it's election campaign paraphernalia.
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