Pubdate: Thu, 10 Mar 2016
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2016 North Coast Journal
Author: Grant Scott-Goforth


Marijuana advocates are not donating money to presidential campaigns 
at anywhere near the level of other causes, according to a recent 
International Business Times report.

The article starts by detailing how little marijuana groups have 
donated to Bernie Sanders - who's advocated for legalization on the 
campaign trail - compared to Rand Paul, the one-time Republican 
candidate who's also backed marijuana reform and who hauled in 
$24,500 in donations at a single 2015 fundraising event in Colorado. 
Sanders has received $1,000 from board members of prominent national 
marijuana advocacy groups.

Other lobbyists - for gun rights, alcohol and gay rights 
organizations - spent millions on the 2012 election. During the same 
cycle, the Times reports, marijuana groups spent $40,000 on 
presidential candidates.

The report floats several theories as to the lack of presidential 
candidate spending (we'll ignore the obvious joke here). First, 
marijuana advocates have a long history of getting medical and 
recreational marijuana passed on the state level, and that appears to 
be where the vast majority of campaign spending on the subject still 
lies. Still, as one expert pointed out, states where legalization has 
taken hold in the last several years are largely relying on executive 
memos urging Justice Department leniency on state-authorized 
marijuana; a new president could erode that tenuous support.

Another reason for the lack of presidential donating, the article 
surmises, is that the marijuana movement is "far from flush in cash" 
and lacking in affluent support. From a first glance inside the 
Emerald Triangle, that seems silly - we've seen an industry plenty 
flush in cash, and there's reason to believe growers vote against 
legalization knowing that prohibition is the very thing keeping their 
profit margins sky-high. It's also easy to imagine that the pot 
operations flourishing in Denver, Seattle and Portland have tightened 
their campaign purse strings since legalization took hold in their 
respective states. After all, the battle there is won, and 
pot-tourism is an undeniable moneymaker.

Still, while marijuana profits soar, there's little in the way of a 
unified national industry like big alcohol has built over decades. 
And on a national scale, it makes sense that marijuana legalization 
doesn't register high on the scale of timely causes. Medical 
marijuana has a foothold in nearly half the nation, and recreational 
marijuana doesn't have the social justice imperative that, say, 
same-sex marriage carries. And while the criminal justice system 
unevenly punishes minorities for marijuana crimes - justifying long 
overdue decriminalization - that's probably not much of a pet cause 
for the nation's affluent campaign donors.

In a first-of-its-kind move, Arcata medical marijuana dispensary the 
Humboldt Patient Resource Center recently was named the city's 2016 
Business of the Year. The timing is notable - as the city voted 
recently to enact a business-friendly medical marijuana innovation 
zone and is looking into track-and-trace software for local 
cultivators and manufacturers, HPRC is moving quickly to comply with 
new state regulations while maintaining its standards and place in 
the community.

The dispensary has its own strict tracking and testing programs, and, 
according to a nomination for the award submitted by several members 
of the city's Economic Development Committee, "Humboldt Patient 
Resource Center is a longstanding member of our community and is 
internationally recognized within the medicinal cannabis community."

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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom