My favorite political science professor in college would always say that the two most important things in politics are 1) money, and 2) money. In a perfect world it wouldn't be that way, but when it comes to American politics that's the way things are, and that will not change anytime soon (if ever). A big reason for the recent marijuana reform victories is because of the profit potential of the marijuana industry. I would prefer that marijuana laws were reformed because it's the right thing to do, but I also recognize that huge dollar figures help a lot to achieve the end goal of legalization.
2016 is going to be a very big year for marijuana reform. Most people think that to be true because of the initiative efforts that are occurring across the country, or because of state legislatures that will likely be taking up the issue of marijuana reform this year in one form or another. However, there is a lot going on at the federal level as well. I was at a function a few months ago in which U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer told me that people should expect quite a few things to be introduced in Congress in 2016. When I pressed him for particulars, he just smiled and said, 'just about everything you could imagine.' He had a sort of twinkle in his eye.
I like to think that a lot of Earl's confidence is based on the fact that he has such strong support from the cannabis community. Earl Blumenauer has been fighting for sensible marijuana laws for a long time, but he was always considered to be rare. Zoom forward to the present, and he is leading a coalition of federal politicians in D.C. that is fighting to reform marijuana laws at the federal level. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that Earl now has a solid stream of campaign contributions coming from the cannabis industry. Earl's advocacy combined with cold hard campaign cash makes him very credible (and formidable) on Capital Hill, and that's something that makes me very, very happy.
In a perfect world politicians like Earl would just go to Capital Hill, state that reforming marijuana laws are the right thing to do, and it would be enough to make it happen. In a less perfect world, politicians would go to Congress and say that their constituents support reforming marijuana laws, and that would be enough. But the way things are in American politics, it takes both of those things and a lot of money to back up the message to get things moving. Fortunately, the cannabis community has that as an option now, and it's an option it should go to early and often. I think Portland attorney Amy Margolis put it best when she was discussing the impact and importance of donating to cannabis-supporting politicians with Oregon Public Broadcasting:
"We are willing to come out for you if you if you support us," said Amy Margolis, a Portland attorney and founder of the Oregon Cannabis PAC.
2016 is going to be a very, very big year for marijuana reform, and the cannabis community needs as many allies in Congress as it can get, and needs to support those allies with campaign contributions and other forms of support. There is a fundraiser coming up for Oregon Senator Ron Wyden next month in Portland, Oregon. Ron Wyden has not always been a supporter of the cannabis community. In fact, if you Google 'Ron Wyden marijuana' you will likely come across an article that I wrote in July 2010 about correspondence I received from Senator Ron Wyden's office. Let's just say that the correspondence I received from Senator Wyden's office was not favorable, nor was the article I wrote about it...!
I'm very happy to say that Senator Wyden has changed his stance on marijuana policy, and is actually now one of the biggest supporters of the movement in Congress. Last year Ron Wyden joined other favorable federal politicians (including Earl Blumenauer) in calling for banking reform to help the marijuana industry, and tax reforms to help the marijuana industry. I'm told he has a lot more planned for this year in the U.S. Senate. Again, 2016 is going to be a big year, and we need Senators like Ron Wyden fighting in Congress on our community's behalf. Ron Wyden got on the right side of history, and in a meaningful way too, and he deserves our support. It's not about buying favor, it's about letting the rest of Congress know that marijuana reformers and the politicians that support them are not on the fringe - we represent a majority of Americans that believe that marijuana prohibition has failed, and it's time for sensible reform.
I'm encouraging all TWB readers to consider attending the cannabis community fundraiser for Ron Wyden next month. The fundraiser is being organized by the previously mentioned Amy Margolis, and is being hosted by a handful of Oregon cannabis companies. As of right now, I think I'll be attending the fundraiser, but I'll have to see if I can round up the funds. If I can't, and I know there will be others that can't, realize that there are still ways to help support Ron Wyden. Donate any amount that you can to his efforts, and make sure to let it be known that your contribution comes from a cannabis supporter. If you don't have funds, write him a letter and thank him for supporting reform. Money helps in politics, but so does letting elected officials know that you are out there and that you appreciate their support. Below is more about the event, via the event's Eventbrite page:
Please join Chalice, Ruby Farms, Cultivated Industries, Groundworks and the cannabis community as they host a fundraiser for Senator Ron Wyden.
There are a number of levels of participation:
$2000.00 donation- entry for four into the VIP event starting at 5:30pm and then please join us for the hosted cocktail party event after.
$100.00 minimum donation- please join us for a two hour hosted cocktail party with Senator Wyden.
Please send an email if you would like to make a donation at a different level.
Your RSVP here is simply a way for us to track who will be joining us and provide additional information. There will be wonderful music, food and drinks as we support Senator Wyden and hear about Federal progress on serious issues like access to banking and tax reform.
Please email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
WHEN - Thursday, February 18, 2016 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM (PST)
WHERE - Will be emailed to participants Portland, Oregon 97204