Pharmaceutical companies lead the way in donations for legal pot causes | Media Pyro


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The call came from drug industry leaders: Money needed for Missouri’s ballot initiative to legalize recreational drugs for adults. Their colleagues responded.

Marijuana farms, producers and traders received millions of dollars in petitions to put the proposal on the November ballot and promote it to voters. The deep pocket showed the firm’s deep roots in the past and its great potential for growth.

All told, marijuana legalization campaigns have raised $23 million in five states – Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. Most of that in Arkansas and Missouri, more than 85% of donations came from donors affiliated with companies that hold prescription drug licenses, according to an Associated Press analysis of the financial report for the new project.

The largest donor is Good Day Farm, which claims to be the “largest pharmaceutical producer in the South” with facilities in Arkansas, Missouri and Louisiana. He gave $3.5 million to the empowerment programs in Arkansas and Missouri. And when the Missouri campaign needs help gathering petition signatures, Good Day Farm will pay an additional $1 million directly to the agency that delivers the petitions.

“That’s the price of doing business, I think,” said Alex Gray, chief strategy officer at Good Day Farm. “This is good for business, but it’s also good for government.”

Licensed medical drug businesses affiliated with Greenlight have been awarded $1 million for licensing programs in Arkansas, Missouri and South Dakota, according to an AP analysis.

If the votes pass, Greenlight CEO John Mueller said he expects to “double” the workforce of 370 people at Greenlight’s farms and dispensaries in Arkansas, Missouri, South Dakota and West Virginia.

“Obviously, your customer base will increase as you go into mature use,” says Mueller, a self-proclaimed consultant who has encouraged industry partners to participate in endorsement programs.

Provisions in the legislative changes in Arkansas and Missouri will give dispensary license holders access to the new recreational market. But Mueller said the tactics aren’t enriching the industry.

“More jobs, more tax money – take it out of the black market,” he said.

Marijuana legalization elsewhere has not excluded legal consumers. California voters approved recreational drug use in 2016 after appropriating $36 million for the program, and the first retail stores opened in 2018. However, the illegal market remains huge – more than twice the legal sales, some decisions.

Medical marijuana was approved by voters in 2016 in Arkansas and North Dakota, in 2018 in Missouri and in 2020 in South Dakota. As in other areas, it takes a long time to adjust programs. But in less than two years since the Missouri stores opened, drugstores have reported sales of $500 million.

Arkansas’ campaign to legalize recreational drugs for adults has raised more than $13 million, including $8 million in October alone, while Missouri has raised more than $7 million. Campaigns in other states raised less than $1 million. Maryland’s campaign was relatively small, raising just over $300,000 in public support.

In Arkansas and Missouri, opposition has come from an unlikely coalition of public safety groups, social activists opposed to legalization and some marijuana advocates who believe the ballot measures are too restrictive. .

Arkansas opposition is the most budgeted of the states. Uline CEO Richard Uihlein and Mountaire Corp. CEO Ronald Cameron donated $1 million to the Safe and Secure Community campaign committee. His ads said legalizing marijuana for adults would increase traffic accidents and illegal use by youth, among other things.

Some critics say the Arkansas law is designed to benefit a small number of dispensaries, saying there is no way adults can grow marijuana at home or dispose of it. preconceived notions.

“This amendment is a non-starter,” said Melissa Fults, executive director of Arkansans for Cannabis Reform. “A brick wall.”

Missouri’s warrant system — which eliminates many prior arrests and convictions — is sponsored by Pro-Choice Missouri. An abortion rights group that supports the legalization and decriminalization of the drug called it a “reproductive rights issue” but believes the move will not do enough to address past harms from “racist criminalization of the drug”.

There are 19 states that have legalized recreational drugs for adults since voters in Colorado and Washington first approved ballot measures in 2012. Those early efforts were largely funded by wealthy individuals, such as Rep. Former Progressive Insurance Peter Lewis. Tech billionaire Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, is among the biggest donors to California’s legalization campaign.

But charity funding for legalization programs has declined as the drug industry has grown.

“The philanthropists who got this movement off the ground” are “ready to move on to other issues, or they don’t have time to support this movement, as the businesses now, and many of these businesses are established. it’s a lot of money,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Initiative, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit advocacy group.

Schweich moved to South Dakota to run the empowerment program this year. The Marijuana Policy Program provides staff support for the North Dakota program. But it doesn’t really include Arkansas and Missouri, which have more industrial resources

New Approach, another DC-based drug policy group, has raised more money on psychedelics than marijuana this year. $4.2 million was poured into a campaign to make Colorado the second state, after Oregon, to allow adults 21 and older to use hallucinogenic substances found in certain mushrooms.

Meanwhile, New Approach has donated $700,000 to marijuana legalization initiatives in Missouri, North Dakota and South Dakota. As the pharmaceutical industry has grown, management has adjusted its goals.

“Our focus in recent years has been on projects in the old red states, in part because we see it as the most effective way to continue to accept comprehensive for cannabis policy reform,” said New Approach Chief of Staff Taylor West.

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