Support for adult use cannabis surged in 2019, but some groups rallied to push back.
At least three national organizations lobbied federal lawmakers to oppose cannabis law reform measures in the fourth quarter of 2019, one for the first time. Here is what disclosure reports show about their efforts:
* Heritage Action for America lobbied against the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019, or H.R. 3884, which would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis. Heritage Action is the campaign arm of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank. The organization in 2018 also lobbied the U.S. Senate on “issues related to CBD safe harbor, marijuana, and opioids,” according to disclosure reports.
“Our basic view on marijuana policy is that the decision of descheduling or legalization should only happen after an FDA determination that marijuana consumption is safe,” Noah Weinrich, press secretary for Heritage Action, told Cannabis Wire. “Until that research and determination has been conducted, Congress does not have enough expert knowledge to make this decision.”
Weinrich said that the organization will likely take a similar stance against related bills in the future.
* Concerned Women for America lobbied against the SAFE Banking Act, which would protect banks from federal penalties for doing business with the cannabis industry.
“We oppose the SAFE Act because it gives the marijuana industry unprecedented access to financial resources, even while marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, which would cause the industry’s exponential growth,” Toni DeLancey, CEO of Concerned Women for America, told Cannabis Wire.
While this is the first time the conservative, Evangelical Christian organization has weighed in on cannabis policy, it previously lobbied Congress against the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, which sought to legalize industrial hemp, in the second and third quarters of 2018, records show.
* Smart Approaches to Marijuana, through SAM Action, contributed $50,000 last quarter to oppose a range of items, from cannabis research to banking and criminal justice reform. SAM is the nation’s largest anti-cannabis organization.
SAM also directly lobbied lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Last quarter’s reports show the group spent $37,500 to push Congress on “the effects of marijuana on children,” “the nexus between marijuana and psychosis,” “banking issues surrounding the marijuana industry” (including the SAFE Banking Act), “the nexus between high potency marijuana and mental illness,” and criminal justice reform.
SAM lobbied in opposition of the MORE Act, STATES Act, and SAFE Banking Act, “to prevent the inception of a national Big Tobacco-type marijuana industry, which is being allowed to grow in the handful of states that have legalized the drug,” SAM president Kevin Sabet told Cannabis Wire, adding that first quarter disclosures will reflect similar activity.
Correction: an earlier version of this article referred to SAM Action as a PAC. It is a 501 (c) (4).