According to the Denver Post, pro-cannabis reform groups like the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) outspent their opponents’ lobbying efforts in the state capitol by a ratio of 4 to 1 over the past year. Whereas pro-reform groups spent at least $269,000 over the past 12 months, opponents of reform spent a paltry $59,000.
The increased spending came not only from not-for-profit groups like MPP and DPA but also from for-profit companies with large financial stakes in the outcome of proposed regulations in a legal market. Hollywood-based Medbox, for example, spent an undisclosed sum hiring the lobbying firm Headwaters Strategies to represent their interest as the manufacturer of automatic marijuana dispensing machines, and trade associations The Medical Marijuana Industry Group and The Cannabis Business Alliance spent $55,750 and $24,000, respectively.
The lion’s share of anti-marijuana lobbying expenditures came from a group called Smart Colorado, which spent $56,000 to lobby on the state capitol. In the past, the group has spearheaded a failed effort to repeal cannabis legalization in Colorado, which passed by voter initiative last fall.
The large disparity in spending evidencing the growing political maturity of the cannabis community, which has evolved from the college “Smoke-Ins” of the 1970s into a sophisticated network of reform advocates, public relations professionals, and entrepreneurs. And with potentially billions of dollars at stake in a newly legal industry, legislators in states like Washington and Colorado can surely expect to see more pro-pot lobbying in the near future.