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By Kyle Jaeger A coalition of marijuana businesses and advocacy groups has launched a new super PAC that will work to “raise the profile of cannabis as a national issue in the 2024 election and beyond.” And part of the strategy will involve finding industry partners to ask their customers to make “round-up” donations at the point of sale when shopping at dispensaries.
The U.S. Cannabis Council (USCC) announced on Wednesday that it and its member businesses have formed the “Legalize America” super PAC, which unlike traditional political action committees can accept contributions of any size but cannot directly coordinate with political candidates.
“Legalize America is committed to ending cannabis prohibition and advancing expungement efforts and responsible use,” Legalize America Chair Matt Harrell of Curaleaf said in a press release. “We will use all available tools—including scorecards, endorsements and targeted independent expenditure campaigns—to advance cannabis reform, with the goal of creating a prosperous and equitable cannabis industry.”
Despite public support for ending marijuana prohibition, the coalition says that Congress “is stuck in the past,” so the super PAC “will help speed up the nation’s transformation on cannabis reform.”
It will seek to achieve that goal through a combination of partnerships with “high-profile public figures and brands,” and will also look into working with cannabis stakeholders to see if they’d be willing to give customers an option to “round up” their purchases, with the extra change going to the campaign as donations.
“We believe the 2024 presidential election will be a pivotal moment in the fight to end cannabis prohibition,” said Legalize America Secretary Pete Meachum of Cronos Group. “We are laying the groundwork now to use advertising, grassroots engagement, voter outreach and events to keep cannabis front and center throughout the campaign.”
While Legalize America said in a press release that it is the “first” focused super PAC in the U.S. focused on reforming cannabis laws, the owners of a California-based mobile cannabis dispensaries did file paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2013 to create a entity called the Legalize Marijuana Super PAC.com. It doesn’t appear, however, that the effort reported raising or distributing any funds following its launch.
Last year, prohibitionist forces launched the Protect Our Kids PAC focused on opposing cannabis legalization.
Right now, Legalize America’s membership overlaps with that of USCC, which counts among its partners ATACH, Canopy Growth, Columbia Care, Curaleaf, Cresco Labs, Cronos Group, Dutchie, Houseplant, Marijuana Policy Project, PAX, PharamCann, Scotts Miracle-Gro and Vicente, among others.
“Legalize America is being launched by USCC and its member companies/orgs but the intention is to create a broad tent that draws in additional companies/orgs along with celebrities and grassroots donors, esp. consumers,” USCC spokesperson Josh Glasstetter told Marijuana Moment on Wednesday.
It’s already become clear that drug policy will be a prominent issue in the 2024 presidential election, with Republican and Democratic candidates weighing in on marijuana reform early in the race.
For example, Democratic presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy Jr. shot back at Republican candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) this past weekend over his recent remarks on opposing the federal decriminalization of cannabis.
Former President Donald Trump seemed confused during a recent interview when he was confronted with the fact that his proposed plan to impose the death penalty on drug traffickers would have condemned a woman he pardoned and promoted as an example of a key criminal justice reform achievement during his administration.
At a CNN town hall event this month, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said that he would “end” the war on drugs if elected, emphasizing the need for a treatment-based approach to people experiencing addiction—while at the same time maintaining that he’d seek to increase enforcement against those who sell drugs.
“We are committed to working with advocates, industry professionals, and community leaders to create policies that support cannabis legalization in a thoughtful and responsible manner,” the site for Legalize American says. “Our primary focus is on promoting federal legalization, expunging records for non-violent cannabis offenses, and ensuring that the benefits of legalization reach all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.”