Report: Cannabis Industry Is Spending Record Amounts on Political Campaigns

A decade ago, it was rare to see politicians willing to accept money from a business dealing in federally-prohibited drugs, but today, many political groups have realized that cannabis reform is a hot-button issue that will bring voters out to the polls.

The number of pro-cannabis politicians in office may be soon grow even more, thanks to financial support and lobbying efforts from the cannabis industry itself. A decade ago, it was rare to see politicians willing to accept money from a business dealing in federally-prohibited drugs, but today, many political groups have realized that cannabis reform is a hot-button issue that will bring voters out to the polls.

During the 2015-2016 campaign cycle, cannabis companies, advocates, and entrepreneurs donated at least $1.8 million to California political campaigns in an effort to pass Prop. 64 and legalize cannabis for adults. From Jan. 1, 2017 through Apr. 26, 2018 the industry has donated more than $600,000 to California campaigns, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. The figure is at least four times what the industry spent on political campaigns during the 2013-2014 election cycle.

Democrats welcome industry donations. According to the CALmatters data, the Democratic convention in February was sponsored by Eaze – a cannabis delivery company – which additionally donated $45,000 to the party. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has raised $495,000 as of April – the most money from the industry – for his gubernatorial bid. State Treasurer John Chiang, who has pitched the idea of a state bank for the industry, has raised at least $10,100 from cannabis firms and advocates. Attorney General Xavier Becerra has raised at least $21,000 for his re-election bid. In 2014 his opponent, Kamala Harris, who currently serves as a U.S. Senator, did not accept industry money. Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara has raised at least $18,000 from the industry and is currently running for Insurance Commissioner.

The California Cannabis Industry Association has raised more than $290,000 for their political action committee since its 2014 launch.

“I’m sure we will [continue] soliciting from the cannabis industry. It’s a legal industry in California. It’s not one that hurts the environment, it’s not undermining our society. So we welcome their dollars.” – California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman to the Daily News.

The state’s Democratic Party bans contributions from the tobacco and oil industries, but welcomes marijuana money. “I’m sure we will [continue] soliciting from the cannabis industry,” Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman told CalMatters. “It’s a legal industry in California. It’s not one that hurts the environment, it’s not undermining our society. So we welcome their dollars.”