Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from Alexandra Cohen regarding her support for Oregon’s Measure 109, and the legalization of psilocybin for therapeutic purposes.
Today, voters in five states will see measures to legalize cannabis for medical or adult use on their ballots. All of these campaigns, except Arizona, have one big backer in common: the New Approach PAC.
A comprehensive Cannabis Wire analysis of disclosures found that the PAC has raised nearly $10 million in 2020, and contributed more toward drug policy-related ballot efforts than any other single entity.
Further, Cannabis Wire found that in September 2020, $750,000 came from philanthropist Alexandra Cohen, who is also the wife of Steve Cohen, the billionaire incoming owner of the New York Mets. Cohen specifically supports Measure 109 in Oregon, which is backed by the New Approach PAC, and which would legalize psilocybin for therapeutic uses.
“We supported this initiative because we want to help people suffering from chronic pain and illness, addiction and metal health challenges find new ways to heal,” Cohen said in a statement to Cannabis Wire.
Cohen is among the top three contributors to New Approach PAC in 2020, behind Dr. Bronner’s, the soap company, and Henry van Ameringen, the late philanthropist—the PAC’s top two contributors since it was formed in 2014. (Read Cannabis Wire’s recently published piece about all of the PAC’s contributors to-date.)
Five of the PACs contributors in 2020 have previously contributed. In addition to the aforementioned two, they are: Scotts Miracle-Gro Company; Daniel Lewis, philanthropist and brother of the late Peter Lewis, who was a longtime cannabis legalization supporter and the CEO of Progressive Insurance; and Brendan Kennedy, founder of cannabis-focused private equity firm Privateer Holdings (while Kennedy hasn’t personally contributed prior to 2020, Privateer has).
Here is the full list of the PAC’s top 2020 contributors (and, where applicable, their connection to the cannabis industry):
• Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps: $6.685 million
• Henry van Ameringen: $1 million
• Alexandra Cohen: $750,000
• Brendan Kennedy: 750,000
• Scotts Miracle-Gro Company: $600,000
• Daniel R. Lewis: $200,000
• Good Growth Alliance (Scotts-linked 501(c)4): $100,000
• Matt Stone: $50,000
• Ghost Management Group (Weedmaps): $25,000
• Pamela Sands: $20,000
• Christian Groh (Leafly): $10,000