Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis

Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis
© iStock, The Hill illustration

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans Hillicon Valley: Google buying Fitbit for .1B | US launches national security review of TikTok | Twitter shakes up fight over political ads | Dems push committee on 'revenge porn' law Progressives urge end to mass phone data collection program 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: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation The PREPARED Act will protect vulnerable animals when disaster strikes MORE (D-Nev.), Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans House Democrats launch process to replace Cummings on Oversight panel Democratic lawmakers, 2020 candidates pay tribute to Conyers MORE (D-Calif.), Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterFinancial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more House passes bill to protect cannabis industry access to banks, credit unions Showing consumers health care pricing could lower costs MORE (D-Colo.) and Tom McClintockThomas (Tom) Milller McClintockSeveral GOP House members call to continue to withhold international conservation grants until oversight measures implemented Overnight Energy: Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest| Democrats inch closer to issuing subpoenas for Interior, EPA records| Trump's plan to boost ethanol miffs corn groups and the fossil fuel industry Democrats inch closer to issuing subpoenas for Interior, EPA records 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.