We’ve said before that that any effort to legalize marijuana is going to bring unintended consequences. One of those consequences, apparently, is campaign contributions.
According to the Associated Press, members of the marijuana industry are already funneling big dollars into campaigns for marijuana-friendly candidates and ballot measures. One marijuana store owner in Denver, Colorado, was quoted as saying, “There isn’t a week that goes by where we don’t make a political donation.”
Efforts to legalize marijuana at the ballot box are seeing millions of dollars for their campaigns. Colorado’s congressional delegation has received $20,000 from marijuana advocates. Marijuana Policy Project–the group that bankrolled the 2012 effort to legalize “medical” marijuana in Arkansas–plans to give roughly $150,000 to federal candidates around the nation as well.
A looming question that remains unanswered amid all this: What will the marijuana industry do if the U.S. Attorney General decides to enforce the federal laws against marijuana?
Under federal law, it is still 100% illegal to grow, possess, or use marijuana anywhere in the country–including states like Colorado, Washington, and California. So how are people able to grow and use marijuana in these states? The U.S. Attorney General opted not to prosecute anyone “complying with state laws” on the matter. Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, and Attorney General Holder’s Department of Justice opted not to prosecute anyone opening a marijuana farm or marijuana store in that state. To put it another way, the Attorney General is ignoring the law.
Last week Attorney General Holder announced his resignation. He will remain in office until his successor is confirmed. Whoever that person is, he or she will have a choice: Continue letting the nation’s drug laws go completely unenforced in states like Colorado, or take on an industry that appears to be slowly working to elect candidates who share its views on marijuana.