A recent survey conducted by USA Today has found that marijuana business owners are finding a new outlet for their campaign donations: Republicans.
Fearing a possible federal crackdown and taking their place among legitimate businesses in other, more established industries, cannabis business owners have shifted the focus of their campaign finance donations from the Democratic Party to the GOP.
“These are legitimate, taxpaying businesses that want and deserve to be heard, and lawmakers at every level of government have become more comfortable with accepting their contributions,” said Mason Tvert, a cannabis activist who was instrumental in getting adult use marijuana legalization passed in Colorado in 2012.
While campaign contributions from the legal marijuana industry went more to Dems than Repubs in 2016, the vast majority of federal contributions so far for the 2018 campaign season have gone to GOP candidates.
The shift from “progressive” Democrats to states’ rights Republicans has been a swift one for those in the legal cannabis industry, despite mixed signals from President Trump and outright hostility from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
This change is not only indicative of the fleeting nature of politics in general, it is also indicative of just how quickly things are changing in the marijuana law reform movement and the industry that is growing out of that movement. Ten years ago, most activists spoke of legalization as something they hoped to see in their lifetimes. Now we measure success on a per-year basis with each victory adding to the momentum that feeds into the next victory.
Those in the cannabis industry realize that they must be fast on their feet and able to adapt to quickly changing circumstances. Competition is fierce and laws and regulations are shifting under the ground the legal marijuana industry is being built on. The smart ones will grasp any advantage they can get, and when the government has a heavy hand on your industry, it’s best to try and influence that hand.
“They’ve got a lot to learn. But they’re learning it because they’re here now,” said GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA) of the new players in the campaign finance game. “The voters of those states have granted them the title of legitimate businessmen.”
And in a society where the government has so much power over a market, legitimate businessmen try and influence those with the power any way they can.