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 BlumenauerChuck E. Cheese files for bankruptcy protection Bipartisan bill introduced to provide 0B in relief for restaurants OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Dems press Trump consumer safety nominee on chemical issues | Lawmakers weigh how to help struggling energy industry | 180 Democrats ask House leadership for clean energy assistance 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 TitusOvernight Defense: Army now willing to rename bases named after Confederates | Dems demand answers on 'unfathomable' nuke testing discussions | Pentagon confirms death of north African al Qaeda leader Top Democrats demand answers on Trump administration's 'unfathomable' consideration of nuclear testing Federal employees push for COVID-19 protections in 'dangerous' workplaces MORE (D-Nev.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeState legislatures consider US Capitol's Confederate statues House eyes votes to remove symbols of Confederates from Capitol Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE (D-Calif.), Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterFor safety and economic recovery, Congress must prioritize cannabis banking Eight surprises in House Democrats' T coronavirus relief bill Democrats introduce bill to include cannabis businesses in coronavirus relief MORE (D-Colo.) and Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockDemocrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers Hoyer says Democratic leaders mulled requiring masks on House floor Mask-wearing becomes political even as some governors ease resistance 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.