Do US lobbyists pay $45 million annually to keep cannabis illegal?



Sum of lobbying money

Basically, I want to know how accurate is this. Do lobbyists pay $45 million in US to keep ganja illegal?


Posted 2019-06-03T23:38:02.920

Reputation: 1

Question was closed 2019-06-06T03:54:02.010

10If you could provide a source for the graph, this might be a good question for Skeptics.SE. – F1Krazy – 2019-06-03T23:45:29.923

The source for the graph is

– user4951 – 2019-06-04T00:15:23.587

8If we're going to have a new tag, surely Marijuana or cannibis will be more recognizable to the majority of users than ganja. – Obie 2.0 – 2019-06-04T00:19:22.580

2I am not sure quora counts as a source and it doesn't say where it got those numbers from – Joe W – 2019-06-04T01:27:26.003

1I've tagged this with US since it seems the graph is about that country, even though the source is an Indonesian-language forum. Also, I've edited the title to be more descriptive. – Fizz – 2019-06-04T03:28:47.130

The pro figure seems roughly correct; it was actually $2.5 million in 2018 according to I suspect the anti figure might depend how you tally things... (It's not mentioned in that source I found.)

– Fizz – 2019-06-04T03:35:04.203

3What portion of the spending by all those anti-cannabis groups was actually spent to keep it illegal, rather than on other goals the groups might have? How are the proportions determined? – jamesqf – 2019-06-04T16:41:27.663

2Since the banding for each bar is the same and there is no label for the Pro-Cannabis side, does that mean that the colors refer to the same lobbying groups? Because to me it looks like the graph is indicating that Alcohol Companies spend a lot of money on Anti-Cannabis lobbying, but also some smaller amount on Pro-Cannabis lobbying, as do each of the other groups, which would be a curious situation... – cpcodes – 2019-06-04T17:02:54.243

@cpcodes - That's obviously not the case. Probably. – Obie 2.0 – 2019-06-04T17:55:55.990

Doesn't this sound like a better fit for []? You'll probably get better results there – divibisan – 2019-06-04T18:18:27.530

1Question seems fine to me. Even if the source of the chart is questionable, the question "Is this true?" is still perfectly valid. And the answer would be interesting. – Time4Tea – 2019-06-04T21:08:28.303

@cpcodes If you look at the first OpenSecrets link on my answer, you will see a breakdown of top pro-cannabis lobbying organizations. It is all pro-cannabis lobbies and medical marijuana distributors. I have a different theory about the color-coding, and I'm certain that it's correct. The largest section gets the darkest color, and the next section gets the next lightest shade, and so on. I think that's all there is. I don't believe that the same shade on each side corresponds to the same kind of category. – John – 2019-06-05T16:20:24.280

4I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this should be moved to Skeptics. – Sjoerd – 2019-06-05T19:48:25.627

In order for this question to be acceptable for Skeptics, it would need to name a notable source which makes the claim. So the author of the question would need to add information about where they found that image. – Philipp – 2019-06-06T08:42:05.803

@Philipp: he did give a source in the 2nd comment... although (Indonesian) Quora might not be considered good enough to a "notable" source according to Skeptics rules.

– Fizz – 2019-06-06T19:34:41.280



This image is not hosted anywhere credible.
This reverse image search will show that this image only appears on ministryofhemp and quora. Therefore, by default, there is no reason you should believe it (or any other claim that is not being made by a reputable source).

Marijuana Lobbying Facts
This page on OpenSecrets states that total lobbying dollars for legalized marijuana in 2018 was $2,728,316. I could not find an equivalent page aggregating all lobbying dollars that oppose marijuana legalization.

The following claims come from The Guardian:

(against legalization) And the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, considered one of marijuana’s biggest opponents, spent nearly $19m on lobbying in 2015.
(for legalization) the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group that works to change drug laws, has backed November’s recreational legalization measure with $4.47m, according to government records.
(for legalization) Legalization proponents in California have raised nearly $18m, compared to the (against legalization) opposition’s $250,000 in fundraising.
(for legalization) [The alcohol industry] has given nearly $88,000 to the pro-legalization campaign, according to the Center for Public Integrity. That’s because approval of Nevada’s initiative would hand alcohol distributors the sole right to sell cannabis for the first 18 months.

The following claims come from Vice

(for legalization) Cannabis lobbying groups are spending up to $60,000 a month apiece trying to win friends and persuade recalcitrant lawmakers to see their point of view.
(for legalization) According to lobbying disclosure records, a handful of cannabis trade groups spent $1.3 million lobbying Congress last year
(for legalization) According to disclosure forms, NCR billed $45,000 through the first three months of 2019, all of it in support of the SAFE Banking Act, which would clarify that major financial institutions would not be forced to reject cannabis merchants’ business

The following claims come from OpenSecrets

(against legalization) Since 2009 the Beer, Wine and Liquor industry has spent at least $19.5 million each year on lobbying efforts, most of which have been focused on alcohol taxes and regulations. (against legalization) And in the 2012 campaign cycle, the industry gave nearly $17.8 million to federal candidates, parties and committees.
(against legalization) Every year since 2008 the National Fraternal Order of Police has spent at least $220,000 on lobbying efforts; (against legalization) the National Association of Police Organizations, $160,000; (against legalization) the International Union of Police Associations, $80,000; and (against legalization) the International Association of Chiefs of Police, $80,000.
(against legalization) Since 2008, the Corrections Corporation of America has spent at least $970,000 a year on lobbying
(against legalization) GEO has been less consistent in its lobbying efforts and has spent anywhere between $240,000 to $660,000 a year on lobbying since 2008.
(against legalization) The California Correctional Peace Officers Association, for example, gave $1 million to the successful 2008 campaign against Proposition 5
(against legalization) At the national level, many prison guards are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the most politically active labor unions. In the 2012 campaign cycle, AFSCME gave more than $13 million to candidates, parties, and committees at the federal level. In 2013, AFSCME spent almost $2.7 million on lobbying efforts.
(against legalization) In 2013 alone PhRMA spent nearly $18 million on lobbying, ranking it ninth in spending among all lobbying clients.
(against legalization) Drug manufacturers gave big in the 2012 elections — nearly $21.8 million to various federal candidates and committees as well as the parties.

The following claims come from USAToday

(for legalization) Industry groups with political action committees are the biggest donors, among them the MPP, NORML and the National Cannabis Industry Association, which combined have donated about $327,000 to candidates over the past three Congressional election cycles, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By comparison, the National Beer Wholesalers Association donated about $1.5 million to candidates in the past year alone.

I would conclude that lobbying dollars are somewhere within the neighborhood of the original graphic's claims. Somewhere around $3 million/year on pro-legalization lobbying. Some tens of millions per year (maybe around $50 million/year) on anti-legalization lobbying. Most anti-legalization dollars are coming from alcohol and pharmaceutical lobbies, with some lesser amount coming from private prison lobbies; but very little coming from any sort of religious / conscientious / public health / family values lobby. The graphic's proportional breakdown of anti-legalization sources does not seem totally accurate, but it seems close, with the pharmaceutical proportion being too small, and the prison / police proportion being too large.


Posted 2019-06-03T23:38:02.920

Reputation: 4 429

2I'm not sure I would classify lobbying on "alcohol taxes and regulations" as anti-cannabis. Many of the other points by OpenSecrets are also unclear about what the money was actually spent on. – tim – 2019-06-04T18:58:03.950

3The Pharma industry spent $19M, but how much of that was spent opposing cannabis legalisation? – Paul Johnson – 2019-06-04T20:46:12.943

@tim That's merely because I am quoting directly rather than stitching together disparate quotes and paraphrasing. They don't always make for good quotables, but basically all of the alcohol lobbying money listed here is anti-marijuana or divided between anti-marijuana and other issues. The only quoted figure that is not readily surmisable by a normal person as being pro/con is the alcohol lobbying in Nevada, which is actually pro-marijuana, because the alcohol lobby gets to monopolize marijuana licenses for the first 18 months. – John – 2019-06-04T20:46:56.523

1@tim I decided to revise it to explicitly identify whether each lobby effort was for or against legalization to spare anyone from having to read the sources. – John – 2019-06-04T20:55:57.337

Sould the $18 million (other sources say about $25 million) in California, and similar large amounts in other states, really be considered lobbying, when it's spent on running initiative campaigns? – jamesqf – 2019-06-05T05:05:19.647

1One issue with this answer is that it seems to effectively classify all lobbying by groups that tend to be be against legalization as lobbying against legalization, which recapitulates the probable flaw in the original graphic. Money spent by drug companies, for instances, has all kinds of purposes: making it easier to get drugs approved, for instance. It's like, if Nestle is pro-LBGT rights, is all the lobbying money they spend pro-LBGT lobbying? – Obie 2.0 – 2019-06-05T22:36:23.300