To protect what they see as a legitimate business, cannabis business owners are channeling donations to Republican politicians at a federal level following the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assault on marijuana operations already legalized in nine states.
In early January, Sessions annulled an Obama-era policy, which allowed states to freely operate legalized cannabis businesses and citizens to consume cannabis within their jurisdiction without any federal intervention. With Sessions taking a U-turn, banks and visa and debit card services stopped their services, fearing butting heads with the federal government, which sees marijuana as an illegal drug.
One of the donors, John Lord, the CEO of Colorado-based LivWell Enlightened Health, told USA TODAY in an interview published Sunday that: “It would be rather imprudent if I didn’t.”
Lord, whose company employs more than 600 people, has donated nearly $23,000 to federal lawmakers in the past four years, and another $10,000 to Colorado politicians and issue committees.
USA TODAY said Lord is increasingly donating money to Republicans at the federal level, making him one of the biggest individual donors, at least among those who acknowledge the real source of the contribution.
Many black-market marijuana cultivators describe themselves as self-employed or consultants to conceal the source of the money being contributed since campaign donors have to disclose their employer.
Moreover, USA TODAY revealed through a survey it conducted that: “Hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from the cannabis industry into campaign finance accounts of both lawmakers and political action committees.”
It said the money flow has been concentrating “on Congressional Republicans who are trying to stop the Trump administration from targeting marijuana businesses.”
Matt Karnes of cannabis data firm GreenWave Advisors told USA TODAY that both medical and recreational marijuana businesses in the United States are worth $8 billion, and last year generated at least $2 billion in taxes.
On Monday, Vermont’s Rep. Gov. Phil Scott signed a bill into a law, legalizing marijuana in the state. Vermont now is the ninth state that allows marijuana, however, the sale of cannabis continues to be prohibited.
Legalizing or shunning marijuana is proving to be a divisive issue to Republicans.