Group backed by Charles Koch joins in federal marijuana push after Zoom with Snoop
A group backed by GOP mega-donor Charles Koch, on Tuesday, launched the Cannabis Freedom Alliance, an idea that was sparked after a Koch was on a Zoom call with rapper Snoop Dogg.
Politico first reported that Snoop, Koch and criminal justice reform advocate Weldon Angelos were on a Zoom call together last summer, when the idea for the coalition originated.
Angelos was pardoned by former President Trump in January, after serving 13 years of a 55-year sentence for marijuana trafficking charges.
The movement, according to a statement from the alliance, aims to “end the prohibition, criminalization, and overregulation of cannabis in the United States.”
In a statement announcing the coalition, the group wrote that they are working to accomplish four core values through federal legislative reform: “federal de-scheduling and criminal justice reform, reentry and successful second chances, promoting entrepreneurship in free and open markets and competitive and reasonable tax rates.”
The coalition includes a number of groups: Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group co-founded by Koch; the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank; the Global Alliance for Cannabis, a marijuana trade organization; and The Weldon Project, a nonprofit that is dedicated to funding social change and financial aid for individuals who are still imprisoned for marijuana-related offenses.
The alliance sees the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate as well as having a Democrat in the White House as an opportunity for the advancement of marijuana legislation.
The group hopes Koch’s prominence among conservatives can help sway 10-12 Republicans to join Democrats across the aisle and pass marijuana legislation.
“We need 10 to 12 Republican senators,” Angelos said, according to Politico. “With Koch’s influence, I think that’s likely a possibility.”
Brent Gardner, the chief government affairs officer for Americans for Prosperity, said that legalizing cannabis businesses could help people “lift themselves up.”
“Americans for Prosperity is excited to work alongside our partners to bring cannabis businesses into the light, replacing black and gray markets with a free and fair legal framework,” Gardner said in a statement. “Cannabis commerce will become a way for Americans to lift themselves up, rather than a barrier holding them back.”
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), during an interview with Politico on Saturday, vowed to move forward with legislation to federally legalize marijuana, even if President Biden resists such a move.
“He [Biden] said he’s studying the issue, so [I] obviously want to give him a little time to study it,” the Senate Democratic leader told Politico. “I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will.”
“But at some point, we’re going to move forward, period,” he added.
Updated at 4:30 to show that Snoop Dogg was not officially part of the coalition.
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