Business

Amazon, tobacco, pharma lobby on weed

By Alex Halperin
Jul 22, 2021

The big boys are coming to the party.

Recent reports in Insider and Cannabis Wire confirm that a growing number of major corporations have taken an active interest in legalization.

  • After Amazon said it would stop testing most employees for cannabis, Cannabis Wire reported that the e-commerce giant is lobbying on several pot bills.
  • Amazon endorsed the progressive legalization framework of the MORE Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year, but the company’s more specific lobbying priorities aren’t clear. 

Special interest groups have enlisted lobbying firms with close ties to both Democrats and Republicans. In total, Insider found a record 167 organizations lobbied on cannabis related issues in Q2.

  • Investment bank Morgan Stanley has paid $100,000 year to date to lobby on cannabis banking issues, according to Insider

Cannabis Wire found several other interests advocating on pot-related issues including:

  • Pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smith Kline, the maker of Advil, has lobbied on bills related to MED access for research and CBD in consumer goods. The companies positions aren’t publicly known.
  • The Safe Advertising Coalition, a “coalition of state broadcasting associations” seeks parity for cannabis advertising on broadcast stations” in legal states.
  • A wine industry group does not have a position on cannabis but is concerned about cannabis’ impact on the wine business. 

Meanwhile, tobacco accessories company Turning Point Brands invested $8M in a converible note for value brand Old Pal. This is apparently possible because the brand operates with a non-plant touching model. In his newsletter, Reed Smith lawyer Marc Hauser called it a way for a major tobacco company to get involved in cannabis but not taking on the legal risk of holding equity in a plant-touching company.  

Despite all the interest, legalization is taking its time. With his proposal for reform facing long odds, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) discussed his strategy to get it passed. And Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) clarified his position on a banking bill compromise. (I still don’t understand his position.)
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