Political figures in Colorado, California, Oregon and various states where the booming marijuana industry’s billions flow have been delighted to profit on the bounty—the bounty of money, and the bounty of people with money, eager to convert their cash into political influence.
As the Los Angeles Times documented, the marijuana industry has a clear favorite in the race to become California’s next governor in Gavin Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor and the most renowned support from this past year’s successful legalization effort. In Nevada, the marijuana industry is making its preference for the Democratic Party clear—not very surprising, given Republican Sheldon Adelson’s effort to put it out of business.
This is fine—marijuana is a business and deserves a place to employ lobbyists, lawyers and make an effort to sway lawmakers like any other. There’s Big Oil and Big Tech, and soon there will be Big Weed. This is part of what legalization is all about.
yet when a business is successful, along with political spending comes philanthropy: endowing chairs at universities, paying to put your name on hospitals or, in modest, small-town Chamber of Commerce ways, improving your community. And as Forbes stated, charities have shown to be far less willing to take cash from marijuana businesses than would-be elected officials.
One of Colorado’s more establishied marijuana companies is Organa Brands. Denver-based Organa is the parent company of O.pen Vape, the same O.pen Vape that bid, unsuccessfully, for the naming rights on the Denver Broncos’ home stadium. And according to company president Chris Driessen, Organa offered donations to Wounded Warriors, the American Cancer Society and the Children’s Hospital Foundation but was rebuffed. Rebuffed, yet not completely.
The charities were willing to accept the cash, just as long as everybody could keep hush about the charities accepting mairjuana money, Driessen said. Organa had to make the donations anonymously and keep their mouths closed about being a good citizen, a task Driessen was not willing to do.
“The optics were more important than helping the people,” he told Forbes, which didn’t collect the charities’ side of the story. So Driessen filled that bit in thusly: “Because the message was essentially, ‘You’re a drug dealer.’”
This unusual finding of scruples is interesting, as in the big-money world, the source of big finance has long since stopped holding as much value. It was just few short years ago that major financial institutes including HSBC were busted for knowingly taking money from drug cartels and terrorist organizations—you know, actual drug dealers.
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