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 BlumenauerSenators urge Congress to include election funds in coronavirus stimulus Vote at home saves our democracy and saves lives House committee advances medical marijuana bills for veterans 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 TitusLawmakers highlight flights back to DC for huge coronavirus vote Bipartisan lawmakers ask NIH for information on 'disturbing' studies on monkeys Biden picks up first endorsement from Iowa congressional delegation MORE (D-Nev.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeCBS All Access launches animated 'Tooning Out the News' series Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Democrats spar with DeVos at hearing, say Trump budget would 'privatize education' MORE (D-Calif.), Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterDemocrats press World Bank chief on meeting with Ukrainian president amid Trump pressure 2019 was a historic year for marijuana law reform — here's why Impeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020 MORE (D-Colo.) and Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockHispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Overnight Energy: Panel gives chairman power to subpoena Interior | House passes bill to protect wilderness | House Republicans propose carbon capture bill | Ocasio-Cortez introduces bill to ban fracking House Natural Resources gives Grijalva power to subpoena Interior 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.