Spending on marijuana lobbying in California surged past $455,000 in the second quarter, fueled by a debate over cannabis delivery services and the drafting of final adult-use and medical regulations.
Quarterly filings with the state showed that online dispensary locator Weedmaps was again the biggest advocacy spender in the industry at $75,000. The Irvine-based company lobbied—with the help of two Sacramento firms—the Legislature, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration and five departments and agencies charged with writing the rules governing California’s marijuana market, according to filings.
Weedmaps also contributed a combined $157,850 between April and June to the campaigns of candidates running for city councils, boards of supervisors and the Legislature. The figure includes a $54.400 payment to the California Democratic Party on June 1, records show.
Not far behind Weedmaps in total lobbying spending was Eaze Solutions Inc. The cannabis delivery platform spent just under $66,000 lobbying on 17 bills, the Bureau of Cannabis Control and the governor’s office, according to filings. Eaze has not filed any disclosures indicating the company made campaign contributions this year.
Weedmaps was one of numerous cannabis-related companies that lobbied for Senate Bill 1302, legislation to allow licensed marijuana deliveries anywhere in the state, even in jurisdictions that bar dispensary or grow sites. The bill died in the Legislature, but the same language was included in proposed final regulations released by the state for review last month.
Here are some other takeaways from the quarterly filings:
>>> The California Cannabis Manufacturers Association Inc. saw its lobbying bill jump from just $5,222 in the first quarter to $69,744 over the following three months. The trade group whose members include Grupo Flor and Kiva lobbied on the proposed regulations as well as seven bills on issues ranging from marijuana banking to the protection of medical marijuana records.
>>> Harborside Health Center is still a significant player in state-regulation development with $47,500 spent lobbying rule-making agencies in the second quarter. The dispensary, with locations in Oakland and San Jose, recently announced expansion plans after securing $5 million in equity financing.
>>> The Quintana Cruz Co. and California Strategies & Advocacy remain two of the primary Sacramento-based lobby shops handling marijuana businesses and trade groups in the Golden State.
>>> Pegging the exact amount of money spent lobbying on marijuana issues in California is nearly impossible. The $455,000 represents money reported by companies and organizations focused entirely or almost entirely on cannabis laws and regulations. But it does not include lobbyist employers that have a wide range of interests, including marijuana laws.
The Teamsters Public Affairs Council, for example, was active in the drafting of legislation and regulations regarding marijuana transportation, but its quarterly report reflects lobbying on a long list of unrelated issues and does not break down spending by issue areas.