Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis

Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis
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Political contributions to lawmakers from marijuana industry groups and related companies this year have already exceeded totals from 2018, a new study finds.

The marijuana industry gave $305,675 to members of Congress in the first half of 2019, compared with $248,504 for all of last year, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission filings by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a group that opposes legalization.

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Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerLobbying world Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack Progressives oppose spending stopgap measure over surveillance authority extension MORE (D-Ore.) leads the pack of recipients with nearly $60,000 from marijuana-related companies. He was also the top recipient among incumbents seeking reelection last year, when he received $33,176.

Blumenauer is a staunch supporter of the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow banks to work with marijuana businesses that are legal under state law.

His office did not respond to a request for comment on the SAM analysis.

For its overall analysis, SAM took into account contributions from groups like the National Cannabis Industry Association, as well as the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, which has a group working on client matters on cannabis.

"The flow of political donations from the marijuana industry to elected officials has grown exponentially over the last few years as massive investment from the titans of addiction has increased," Kevin Sabet, president of SAM and a drug policy adviser in the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, said in a statement.

"Big Marijuana is dutifully following the playbook of Big Tobacco and part of that strategy was greasing the wheels on public policy with donations. Another key aspect was keeping those donations under the radar, we aren't going to let that happen," he added. 

In 2018, the top recipients besides Blumenauer were Reps. Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusBiden picks up first endorsement from Iowa congressional delegation The US needs to lead again on disability rights Krystal Ball: New Biden ad is everything that's wrong with Democrats MORE (D-Nev.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeSteyer calls for cuts to defense spending House to vote on Iran war powers bills sought by progressives Khanna: Timing of Iran bill being weighed against getting bigger majority MORE (D-Calif.), Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George Perlmutter2019 was a historic year for marijuana law reform — here's why Impeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020 Financial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more MORE (D-Colo.) and Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockOvernight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel Republicans eschew any credible case against impeachment MORE (R-Calif.).

SAM opposes marijuana legalization efforts at the state and federal level. On Tuesday, the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics denied a request from the SAM Action New York chapter to keep its donors and sources of funding private, meaning it may soon need to reveal the identity of its contributors, Times Union reported.

SAM Action comprises the state-level action affiliates.

Updated at 7:24 p.m.