Lobbying in the Time of Coronavirus

From Politico:

With Washington consumed by figuring out how to respond to the coronavirus, few lawmakers or their aides have time for anything else.

Cannabis lobbyists on Capitol Hill are changing strategies as lawmakers leave town and staffers work from home. Politico's Natalie Fertig reached out to a few lobbyists to hear what they expect as Washington enters an unprecedented new way of working for the foreseeable future. Here are the main takeaways:

Cannabis is not a priority. At all. Every lobbyist said one thing in common: Now is not the time to be talking about cannabis, at least until the federal coronavirus and economic rescue packages are sorted out.
"Does any elected official want to hear from a lobbyist who is not there to talk about the coronavirus?" said Don Murphy of the Marijuana Policy Project. "Prior to this, I actually believed that having half a million people arrested needlessly for cannabis use warranted being a top issue. But right now, all four burners are occupied by coronavirus.”

One thing will stay the same: Murphy says he still plans to sit on the front steps of the Capitol any day that lawmakers may be heading to votes.
"I don't believe I'm going to have access to getting into committee hearings the way I used to, [and] these fundraisers are being canceled right and left," Murphy said. "So where will lobbyists go to see members? I guess I might have some company at the Capitol steps."
To read the full story, click here

Read more

Medical Marijuana

Washington, D.C. Inches Closer to Medical Marijuana

It’s now been almost 13 years since nearly 70% of D.C. voters approved an initiative enacting a medical marijuana law in the nation’s capital, though you’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed. An obscure budget provision known as the “Barr Amendment” stalled implementation for years, and when it was finally removed (after MPP hired Congressman Barr to help defeat his own amendment) in late 2009, the D.C. Council went to work passing an amendment to the law making the proposed program much more restrictive. Since then, the glacial pace of implementation has kept medicine from patients for another year.

But finally, there’s progress. Today, the D.C. Department of Health is making applications available for prospective cultivation center operators. You can read the official notice in today’s DC Register. Only those who submitted the required letter of intent back in June will be able to apply. There were over 100 letters submitted by groups interested in operating cultivation centers, including Benjamin Bronfman, the fiancé of rapper M.I.A. of Paper Planes fame.

Today’s notice applies only to cultivation centers, not dispensaries, so advocates will have to wait a little longer for those. There’s also no word on when patients will be able to apply to the program. Still, it’s progress.


Read more