Who’s spending the most to legalize marijuana

Marijuana players have been spending big to influence pot policy in New York.
Marijuana players have been spending big to influence pot policy in New York.
Bobkov Evgenly/Shutterstock
Marijuana players have been spending big to influence pot policy in New York.

Who’s spending the most to legalize marijuana

Who’s spending the most to legalize marijuana?
February 2, 2020

Major marijuana players have been spending big to influence pot policy in New York. Most are multistate companies that already have a foothold in the Empire State through medical marijuana, and would likely have a leg up in the recreational market under the current proposals.

Here’s how much money some of the highest-spending companies have dished out on lobbying since January 2019.

Columbia Care

$218,000

Lobbyists: Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates; The Roffe Group P.C.

Headquarters: New York City

Columbia Care is one of the largest marijuana companies in the country and holds a medical marijuana license in the state. It operates in 10 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

PharmaCann

$199,992

Lobbyists: Mercury; PharmaCann

Headquarters: Chicago

PharmaCann is a major medical marijuana company that holds a medical license in New York and operates in six states. It was almost purchased by MedMen last year for $682 million.

Acreage Holdings

$180,000

Lobbyists: Greenberg Traurig; 99 Solutions LLC

Headquarters: New York City

Acreage Holdings is arguably the biggest marijuana company in the United States and holds a medical marijuana license in New York through its purchase of NYCanna. It operates in 20 states. The right to buy the company was recently acquired by Canadian pot company Canopy Growth Corp. for $3.4 billion, contingent on the federal legalization of marijuana.

MedMen Enterprises

$120,140

Lobbyists: Dickinson & Avella; MedMen Enterprises

Headquarters: Los Angeles

MedMen is one of the biggest marijuana companies in the country and holds a medical marijuana license in New York through its purchase of Bloomfield Industries in 2017. MedMen recently almost acquired PharmaCann. It operates in seven states. According to lobbying filings, MedMen was in part advocating for social equity in marijuana legalization.

Cresco Labs

$120,000

Lobbyist: Statewide Public Affairs

Headquarters: Chicago

Cresco Labs is a major national marijuana company that has a medical marijuana license in New York via its subsidiary Valley Agriceuticals LLC. The company operates in 11 states.

Curaleaf

$120,000

Lobbyist: Cordo & Co.

Headquarters: Wakefield, Massachusetts

Curaleaf is one of the largest multistate marijuana companies in the U.S., and it has a medical marijuana license in New York. It currently operates in 12 states.

The People’s Dispensary

$100,000

Lobbyist: Mercury

Headquarters: Oakland, California

The People’s Dispensary is much smaller compared with the other companies on this list, with two locations in Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon. The company says it was created to help serve women, minorities and formerly incarcerated people.

Great Lakes Medicinals

$100,000

Lobbyist: Ostroff Associates

Headquarters: Rochester, New York

This startup applied for a medical marijuana license in 2015, but didn’t obtain one. It still has no dispensaries or growing operations in New York. The company focused its lobbying efforts on medical marijuana.

Etain Health

$90,000

Lobbyist: Bolton-St. Johns

Headquarters: Chestertown, New York

Etain is a New York-based company that does not have a presence in other states. It’s the state’s only pot business founded and run by women. It has focused at least some of its lobbying efforts on MWBE benefits for marijuana companies and other related tax incentives.

Vireo Health International

$90,342

Lobbyists: Bolton-St. Johns, Gramercy Communications

Headquarters: Minneapolis

Vireo Health is a large multistate medical marijuana company that has a medical marijuana license in New York. Its headquarters is in Minnesota and it operates in 10 states.

Canopy Growth Corp.

$75,000

Lobbyist: Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies

Headquarters: Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada

Canopy Growth is one of the biggest marijuana companies in the world, but does not have a presence in New York. If the U.S. legalizes pot at the federal level, Canopy Growth will officially purchase Acreage Holdings.

Giving Tree Health Center (via CEO Brian Bairos)

$30,000

Lobbyist: Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron

Headquarters: West Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Giving Tree Health Center proposed a growing, processing and retail space in Massachusetts last year, and made news for wanting to open a drive-thru dispensary. CEO Brian Bairos also runs Colorado Ave. LLC, which is a marijuana company that is licensed in Rhode Island.

Viola Extracts

$15,000

Lobbyist: Dickinson & Avella

Headquarters: Denver, Colorado

Viola Extracts was founded by former NBA player Al Harrington. It currently operates in four states and has plans to expand into Arizona and Nevada this year. 

Think BIG

$3,500

Lobbyist: Polsinelli Public Affairs

Headquarters: Los Angeles

Think BIG was founded by CJ Wallace, the son of slain rapper Biggie Smalls. The company supports criminal justice reform efforts, including fighting mass incarceration and the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana crimes in communities of color.

Rebecca C. Lewis
is a staff reporter at City & State.
20201025