Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Republicans Are Starting To Get Marijuana Campaign Money While Establishment Dems Sleep


Last summer we met Jasper Ward and his dad, former Kentucky congressman Mike Ward. Since then Jasper and Mike have been helping progressive candidates around the country-- like Kendra Fershee in West Virginia and Dan Canon in Indiana-- with marijuana legalization messaging. Yesterday Jasper noted that "Democrats are missing a huge opportunity to be strong on an issue that not only is good policy, not only is popular with voters, but also is good politics. Republicans will never legalize nationwide, and are trying to take us back a generation now."

Mike is describing the geriatric Democratic leadership, not cutting edge progressive candidates and not tuned-in leaders. Last week, for example, Barbara Lee, who represents Oakland and Berkley in Congress and Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, introduced the Marijuana Justice Act to, in Lee's words, "reverse decades of failed drug policies that have caused irreparable damage to communities of color. Senator Cory Booker is the leading the same charge in the Senate. This is the most ambitious marijuana bill to be introduced in Congress-- and for good reason. For far too long, our country’s drug laws have failed communities of color, torn families apart, wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, and have yet to keep us safe. The time has come for Congress to step up and have the courage to do what Jeff Sessions is not, which is to take a close look at this issue and pass legislation to fix our country’s drug laws. Right now, arrests for marijuana account for more than half of all drug arrests in the United States. Under our current drug laws, police have arrested more Americans in possession of marijuana than all violent crimes combined, and most of those arrests fall disproportionately on people of color. The Marijuana Justice Act reverses these trends by:
Removing marijuana from a list of controlled substances, legalizing it at the federal level.
Expunging federal marijuana use and possession of crimes.
Establishing a community reinvestment fund to help pave a pathway forward for communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
"I’ll say it again: we are not going to turn our backs on progress and return to an era of failed drug policies and mass incarceration. We are not going to stand idly by while communities of color suffer unfairly under our country’s failed drug policies. And we are certainly not going to wait for Jeff Sessions and this administration to do something about it."

Early yesterday morning, Trevor Hughes, writing for USA Today reported that marijuana money increasingly flowing to Republican lawmakers. Under the out-of-step leadership of expired-date Democrats like Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn and Crowley, Democrats are ignoring an important issue in an important and vibrant industry with a huge base of support. They are... old and in the way.
Marijuana business owners are increasingly pouring their profits into lobbying lawmakers as they face a federal crackdown from the Trump administration.

A USA Today survey found hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from the cannabis industry into campaign finance accounts of both lawmakers and political action committees, with emphasis this year on Congressional Republicans who are trying to stop the Trump administration from targeting marijuana businesses.

Combined, medical and recreational marijuana marketplaces across the country are worth a staggering $8 billion, and last year generated at least $2 billion in taxes, said Matt Karnes of cannabis data firm GreenWave Advisors. It’s no surprise those businesses want to protect what they’ve built, experts say.

“These are legitimate, taxpaying businesses that want and deserve to be heard, and lawmakers at every level of government have become more comfortable with accepting their contributions,” said Mason Tvert, a cannabis activist who helped lead Colorado’s legalization effort in 2012.

Politicians are increasingly willing to accept those contributions from an industry that remains illegal at the federal level and now faces even more scrutiny after Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month rolled back Obama administrationpolicies not to interfere with state laws allowing people to use recreational marijuana.

...Democrats have typically been the largest recipients of marijuana campaign money in the past, but Republicans are now taking the lead in accepting those donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzed contributions at the request of USA Today. Experts say the recent shift is largely attributable to the belief by marijuana businesses that Republicans who support states' rights are their best allies today.

...Republican California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher recently became a favored lawmaker of cannabis contributors for his strong support of the industry: He's the author of legislation banning the Justice Department from targeting legal medical marijuana businesses. Rohrabacher said he’s noticing more and more marijuana money and lobbying on Capitol Hill.

“They’ve got a lot to learn. But they’re learning it because they’re here now,” he said. “The voters of those states have granted them the title of legitimate businessmen.”

The rapidly growing marijuana industry is finding that politicians are increasingly willing to accept their campaign contributions, said Eli Scislowicz, the operations director of the NuLeaf cannabis dispensary in Lake Tahoe’s Incline Village, Nev.

“In 2007, we might have gotten a few weird looks if we offered them money, but not anymore,” he said.
Goal ThermometerIf you'd like to see more members of Congress who will fight for legalization, please consider contributing to candidates who are working towards that already. You can see a list of them-- and contribute to their campaigns if you want to-- by tapping on the ActBlue Green Wave thermometer on the right. I spoke with Alan Grayson about this. When he was in the House, he told me that he didn't just vote for legalization. "I wrote a bill," he explained, "providing that the federal government could not punish marijuana use any more than the state does, which I then pushed out to Republicans as a 'states’ rights' bill. I also rounded up Democrats to vote for Dana’s amendment allowing V.A. doctors to prescribe marijuana for pain relief wherever it’s legal, which passed.

Doug Applegate, a retired Marine colonel, is also thinking about veterans when it comes to this policy. "When it comes to marijuana, he told me, "we need to research, regulate and tax. Anecdotal evidence indicates that marijuana may be an effective treatment for PTSD. California expects marijuana taxes to have a substantial change on revenues.; so research, regulate and tax."

Blue America's newest endorsed candidate, Nina Ahmad in Philly, has a similarly sensible perspective: "The 'War on Drugs' policies have unfairly targeted communities of color since their inception. We can't allow the rich and the large corporations to control this industry and turn their backs on those communities which have felt the devastating negative effects without seeing any positive growth."

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, the progressive candidate for the open blue seat in Albuquerque said that "As a longtime law professor and advocate for criminal justice reforms, I believe that our so-called war on drugs has led to deeply harmful racial disparities in our incarceration rates, and that is largely due to our marijuana policy. While I have supported state-level ballot measures that would decriminalize and legalize marijuana use, I also believe we need to have a national/federal strategy. While I don't always agree with him, I've been heartened by Senator Booker's recently introduced bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, which would legalize marijuana, expunge federal marijuana convictions and penalize states with racially-disparate arrests or incarceration rates for marijuana-related crimes. If we care about reforming our criminal justice system, the conversation has to begin with the legalization of marijuana. Otherwise, we are letting this corrosive imbalance in incarceration continue unabated. This is simply another example of institutionalized racism."

And Marie Newman, the progressive running for the Chicagoland seat occupied by Blue Dog Dan Lipinski, summed it up it up nicely: "We have the information we need. We need to legalize."

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At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Congress should really smoke some. Maybe they'd get nicer.

At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take it easy on the DINO-sores! They need their seeing-eye Elephants to show them where the next generation of campaign contributions are going to come from!

At 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a clear case of the bribe money chasing power. They clearly assumed $hillbillary would win in 2016. Now they are positive that bribing irrelevant democraps, except in states with lege in the queue, is pointless.

Obamanation issued his EO early in '16. Perhaps he had an amount in mind that they reached by then prompting his EO. leading from behind after being properly bought is his MO, after all.


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