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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 BlumenauerFour things Democrats should do in Biden's first 100 days House Republican wants restrictions on masks with messages House passes sweeping reform bill to decriminalize marijuana 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 TitusHouse Democrats introduce bill to address diversity at State Department Coordinated federal leadership is needed for recovery of US travel and tourism Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' MORE (D-Nev.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeHouse Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis 150 House Democrats support Biden push to reenter Iran nuclear deal San Francisco mayor says Harris replacement pick 'a real blow to the African American community' MORE (D-Calif.), Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterColorado governor, spouse test positive for COVID-19 Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview MORE (D-Colo.) and Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockAn attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation Coalition of 7 conservative House Republicans says they won't challenge election results Five Republicans vote for bill to decriminalize marijuana 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.