Grow, Gift, Repair

A friendly reminder that you must organize and lobby better than the big money competition

Chris Beals, Weedmap’s president and general counsel, says the company has focused on providing research, data and information to policymakers “on what models of legalization and policies have worked in other jurisdictions.”

“Our central tenant is to encourage effective legalization of marijuana that minimizes the illegal market while providing a safe legal market that mitigates any public health concerns,” he said.

Among those lobbying on marijuana-related issues is Dan Delaney, of Delaney Policy Group, who was paid nearly $140,000 in 2017 by Commonwealth Alternative Care Inc. and two other groups that represent medical marijuana dispensaries.

He said much of what he does involved “bridging the cultures” between often state officials and the growing medicinal pot industry.

“A lot of what I do is translating,” he said in an interview. “Because it’s such a new industry, you don’t have business operators who have enough experience to speak in the terms that state or local elected officials understand.”

He suggests that what’s being reported to Galvin’s office is only the tip of the iceberg because many lawyers employed by the industry are not filing disclosures.

“There’s a lot more money involved,” he said. “I would bet that what’s being reported is only about one-third of what is actually being spent.”

The pot industry has also started plowing money into shaping federal policy, as states increasingly legalize marijuana use.

In 2017, the marijuana industry spent more than $1.3 million on Washington lobbyists, double the amount it did in the previous year, according to a recent report from the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.

While companies in other sectors spent far more, the growth of marijuana lobbying was the most of any industry, the group said.

Borghesani said lobbying on Beacon Hill is essential for giving the new industry a voice where there is still much opposition to legal weed.

“It’s always helpful to have people on the ground who have contacts and understand how the system works,” he said. “Just like any other industry, lobbyists are going to continue to represent the marijuana industry so that our voices are heard.”