Challenges Top Marijuana Lobbyist to Answer Four Questions
Contact: Anisha Gianchandani
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[Alexandria, VA, May 2, 2017] – Today, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a national organization committed to promoting evidence-based marijuana laws at the Federal, state, and local levels, released the following statement in reaction to the admission by Rob Kampia, the Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project, that the special interest group is actively soliciting financial contributions from the tobacco industry in exchange for shaping their marijuana legalization initiatives. MPP is the lead lobbying group responsible for funding and organizing every state-based marijuana commercialization campaign in the U.S.
“Rob Kampia’s shameless solicitation for contributions from the tobacco industry is quid pro quo special interest politics at its worst,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of SAM. “Marijuana laws in our country should be informed by science and evidence, not the financial interests of the tobacco industry or a growing for-profit marijuana industry. When the head of the lobbying group responsible for every single marijuana legalization initiative in America asks tobacco companies, ‘what do you want?’ it should send chills down the spine of every public health and safety official in America. This is an outrage and we challenge the Marijuana Policy Project to immediately disclose any and all ties to the tobacco industry so that communities in Michigan and across the country considering changes to marijuana laws can see through the haze of what’s really driving pro-marijuana legalization campaigns in America.”
Kampia’s admission was published last week in the Marijuana Business Daily in a story entitled, “MPP Chief Ready to Barter For Marijuana Campaign Donations.” According to the Daily:
The executive director of Marijuana Policy Project, Kampia called Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday after reading an MJBizDaily story about negotiations in Michigan over a likely ballot measure to legalize recreational cannabis in the state.
He solicited tobacco business interests in Michigan in search of campaign donations to run what will likely be a multimillion-dollar, 19-month endeavor, but he said he was largely unsuccessful.
“It’s the kind of thing where I actually go out and I try to court well-funded constituencies and philanthropists, and say, ‘What do you want, what do you hate, what’s going to turn you off so I can’t actually ask you for money later,’and sometimes you get so far as to say … ‘Is there something that we put something in here that would cause you to immediately escalate your commitment?'” Kampia explained…
In response to Kampia’s latest comments, SAM also challenged MPP to answer four questions regarding MPP’s ties to the tobacco industry:
1. How much total money has MPP taken from the tobacco industry since the organization was established in 1995?
2. Which state-based marijuana ballot initiatives led by MPP have been influenced by input from the tobacco industry?
3. What specific changes to marijuana legislation or ballot initiatives has the tobacco industry proposed in exchange for financial contributions to MPP?
4. Has MPP disclosed its ties to the tobacco industry with Members of Congress it is currently lobbying in support of Federal legislation that would incentivize the commercialization of marijuana in the United States?
Evidence demonstrates that marijuana – which has skyrocketed in average potency over the past decades – is addictive and harmful to the human brain, especially when used by adolescents. Moreover, in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in drugged driving crashes and youth marijuana use. States that have legalized marijuana have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes, continue to see a thriving black market, and are experiencing a continued rise in alcohol sales.
News media requesting a one-one-one interview with SAM President Kevin Sabet can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
### About SAM
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a nonpartisan, non-profit alliance of physicians, policy makers, prevention workers, treatment and recovery professionals, scientists, and other concerned citizens opposed to marijuana legalization who want health and scientific evidence to guide marijuana policies. SAM has affiliates in more than 30 states. For more information about marijuana use and its effects, visit http://www.learnaboutsam.org.