For many years, marijuana and politics were two things that did not mix. But now that the drug's legal in nine states, cannabis companies are finally getting involved in the political process.
A new report from CalMatters found that cannabis companies are donating more money to political candidates in California than ever before. In the 2016 election, marijuana companies gave around $1 million to candidates, and that doesn't include the more than $2.6 million that was spent to pass Proposition 64, which legalized recreational cannabis in the state. So far in the 2018 election cycle, cannabis interests have donated over $600,000, which could get much higher once the elections get closer. To put that in perspective, marijuana interests donated only $140,000 to candidates in the 2014 election cycle and only $30,000 in 2012.
Of course, most of that $600,000 has gone to one candidate: Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who is almost certainly going to become the state's new governor this November. Newsom's campaign has received around $500,000 from marijuana interests so far.
For obvious reasons, marijuana interests are mostly putting their money behind the Democratic party, which has been far more open to legalization. It doesn't hurt that Democrats are openly embracing the cannabis industry, at least in California, saying it's no different than accepting money from any other type of business.
It will be interesting to see how involved marijuana companies get this year. Many Democrats are looking to unseat Republicans, primarily in Congress, and the Democratic Party has finally begun to embrace legalization. So perhaps we'll be hearing a lot more about cannabis companies influencing elections in the future.