The Marijuana Policy Project has long been a leader in funding cannabis reform at the state and federal levels, but the current election season demonstrates that MPP’s role is shifting in a significant way – toward a more collaborative position with industry trade associations and large MJ companies.
That’s clear just by looking at the trend in political fundraising and spending over the current and past few election cycles and how that contrasts with the growing political presence of relatively new trade groups and multistate operators (MSOs) that are willing to use their financial heft directly instead of by funding nonprofits such as MPP.
Consider that for the 2020 electoral cycle:
- MPP’s donations to state legalization campaigns are below a tenth of what it spent in the 2018 midterms.
- The organization’s political action committee (PAC) has been shuttered.
- In 2018 – the most recent year for which financial information is currently available – the nonprofit raised only $1.7 million, compared with the $9.3 million it raised in 2016 and 2017 combined.
MPP’s executive director, Steven Hawkins, did say that fundraising has rebounded the past two years from its 2018 low.
But what the numbers signify, according to veteran cannabis politicos, is how marijuana advocacy and campaigning is being hoisted away from many of the nonprofits who spearheaded state-level legalization. (One possible exception to that trend has been New Approach and