Marijuana Industry Makes Political Donations
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Marijuana Industry Makes Political Donations
Posted by CN Staff on September 29, 2014 at 09:56:01 PT
By Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press Writer
Source: Associated Press
USA -- The entrepreneurs of the young U.S. marijuana industry are taking another step into the mainstream, becoming political donors who use some of their profits to support cannabis-friendly candidates and ballot questions that could bring legal pot to more states.The political activity includes swanky fundraisers at Four Seasons hotels and art auctions at law firms. And members of Congress who once politely returned the industry's contribution checks are now keeping them.
"We're developing an industry here from the ground up. If we don't contribute politically and get out there with the candidates, we can't help shape what happens," said Patrick McManamon, head of Cleveland-based Cannasure Insurance Services, which offers insurance to marijuana growers and dispensaries.Medical marijuana businesses have been giving to candidates since the late 1990s. With the arrival of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington, the industry and its political influence are expanding rapidly.Pot is now legal for medical or recreational purposes in 23 states and Washington, D.C. More marijuana measures will be on the November ballot in Oregon, Florida, Alaska and the nation's capital, so many contributions are being funneled into those campaigns and the candidates who support them.Compared with the donations of other industries or advocacy groups, the political spending by marijuana businesses is modest. But, said Tripp Keber, head of Denver-based Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, which makes pot-infused soda, food and lotion, "the word is out that the marijuana industry has money to give."Keber attended a summer fundraiser for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed legalization in 2012 but has promised to regulate the industry according to voters' wishes."It was interesting to see how he's starting to evolve. I said, 'I'm telling you, I can get 100 people in the room who would be happy to max out,'" or give the state's maximum legal donation of $1,100, Keber said.A few weeks later, in August, Keber threw a fundraiser at the Four Seasons in Denver with a goal of raising $16,000 for Hickenlooper. The event netted $40,000.In Washington state, the industry's contributions are channeled into reforms that include reducing the tax rate on pot and kicking some marijuana revenue back to cities and counties to encourage more communities to allow dispensaries, said dispensary owner John Davis, who also serves as director of the Coalition for Cannabis Standards and Ethics.Not long ago, most marijuana entrepreneurs were "trying to scrape a few dollars together" to get started, Keber said. "Now this industry is becoming profitable, and we're taking that profit and investing it politically. There isn't a week that goes by where we don't make a political donation."The Oregon ballot measure has raised about $2.3 million. A medical-marijuana question in Florida has attracted nearly $6 million. And the Alaska campaign has brought in about $850,000. A recreational pot measure in Washington, D.C., attracted few donations, perhaps because it appears almost certain to pass.Colorado's congressional delegation alone has received some $20,000 this year from the marijuana industry, according to federal campaign-finance data. The true figure is probably much higher because many donors do not mention the drug in campaign-finance disclosures.The largest federal spender on marijuana advocacy is the Marijuana Policy Project, which plans to donate $150,000 to federal candidates this year, up from $110,000 in 2013. The Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have also given directly to federal candidates, and tax-exempt industry groups such as the National Cannabis Industry Association can spend an unlimited amount of untracked money.Politicians who used to reject checks from pro-marijuana donors "aren't doing that anymore," said Ethan Nadelmann, head of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance.Still, the same candidates who cash the checks aren't always keen to talk about it. About a dozen recipients of marijuana money declined interview requests or did not return calls from The Associated Press.A Colorado state lawmaker who accepts marijuana-industry donations conceded thinking twice before taking them."I always worry about what people's perceptions will be," said Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Democrat who is the only sitting Colorado legislator who supported legalization. "But it came down to, I'm on record for where I stood before I ever took a penny from this industry."Todd Mitchem, a Denver marijuana industry consultant, recalled a fundraiser earlier this year thrown by a maker of cannabis vaporizer cartridges for a state legislator. When the company posted photos from the event on its Facebook page, the lawmaker asked that the images be taken down."They just didn't want to be seen. They were still taking the money," said Mitchem, who declined to name the lawmaker.The only member of Congress who responded to the AP was Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis, a longtime ally of the marijuana industry who has proposed federal legalization."As long as this industry Is following our state marijuana laws," Polis said in a statement, "their contributions are the same as those from any other legal donors."Associated Press writers Nigel Duara in Portland, Oregon; Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska; Ben Nuckols in Washington, D.C.; Gene Johnson in Seattle and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.Source: Associated Press (Wire) Author: Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press WriterPublished:  September 29, 2014Copyright: 2014 The Associated PressCannabisNews  -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on October 16, 2014 at 05:46:14 PT
Let us then be up and doing...
With a heart for any fateStill achievingStill pursuingLearn to labor and to wait:)On the world's broad field of battleIn the bivouac of lifeBe not dumb driven cattleBe a hero in the strife
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Comment #5 posted by Oleg the Tumor on October 15, 2014 at 08:28:54 PT
Once again, Thank You, Hope!
"A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, 
  Seeing, shall take heart again." I am afraid this describes my situation to a "T".
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on October 03, 2014 at 15:31:59 PT
I, too, thought about the story of the potter and the clay when I was reading Keramos.Longfellow is a favorite of mine, too. I'm especially fond of A Psalm of Life.
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Comment #3 posted by Oleg the Tumor on October 03, 2014 at 09:31:06 PT
Thank you again, Hope!
Now that's poetry! They don't make them like that anymore.Strangely enough, this morning I was reading Isaiah and what popped out at me was this:"You turn things upside down
as if the Potter were thought
to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"?
Can the pot say of the Potter,
"He knows nothing?" (Isaiah 29:16)These people know what they're talking about!Constant change is here to stay!
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on October 01, 2014 at 19:09:44 PT
Henry Wadsworth Longfellowéramos
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Comment #1 posted by Oleg the Tumor on October 01, 2014 at 15:01:39 PT
The Inevitable Wheel of Change
A Poem by Wordsworth (I think):Turn, Turn My Wheel,all things must changeto something newto something strange.Nothing that is can pause or stay.The moon will wax,the moon will wanethe cloud and mistwill turn to rain,the rain to mist and cloud again.Tommorrow be today.
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