Marijuana executives making push into mainstream politics
By John Schroyer of Marijuana Business Daily
Cannabis entrepreneur Todd Mitchem announced in a late-August email blast that he’s running for Congress, and the subject line even referred to the Coloradan as a “marijuana industry leader.”
He’s one of at least five current candidates for public office around the United States who have direct professional connections to marijuana.
And, like Mitchem, they’re all quite open about those ties.
“There was a time, not that long ago, that being for marijuana would be considered a weakness in running for office. Now, not only is it not a weakness, but it’s a perceived strength,” said Michael Bronstein, a Pennsylvania-based political consultant.
“Twenty years ago … there was a big question whether or not they should admit that they inhaled,” Bronstein said, a reference to former President Bill Clinton’s infamous 1992 statementabout a time that he tried marijuana. “And now candidates are doing much more than saying they’ve inhaled.”
The current field of political candidates with marijuana ties include:
- Judy Appel, California state Assembly, District 15. Appel is a former director of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance and an outspoken cannabis industry ally.
- Kayvan Khalatbari, mayor of Denver, May 2019 election. Khalatbari has multiple marijuana business ties, including being a principal at Denver Relief Consulting and a founder of Cresco Labs.
- Todd Mitchem, Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District on the Libertarian ticket. Mitchem is a longtime cannabis industry consultant and heads TMC Partners Government Affairs.
- Bob Morgan, Illinois state House of Representatives, District 58. Morgan was the first to oversee Illinois’ Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, which he left in 2015 to become a private marijuana industry attorney.
- Dylan Schwartz, New York City Council, District 51. Schwartz has worked for about three years in government affairs consulting within the medical marijuana field.
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