Big marijuana corporations are sponsoring a new celebrity-driven campaign to rally marijuana users to persuade members of Congress to legalize the drug across the country.
Although federal legalization has made some progress, it still faces substantial opposition on Capitol Hill. The “Cannabis in Common” program, which was launched on Tuesday, intends to change that, and it has enlisted the help of actors Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman to spread the word.
“Legalizing cannabis is long past due, and if we make enough noise, we can make it happen,” Rogen, co-founder of a cannabis company stated in a kickoff video.
Silverman lends his voice to another animated commercial. “Americans can’t agree on anything can we?” she asks. “Fortunately there is at least one thing most Americans have in common: more than two-thirds of us agree cannabis should be legalized and we have a real shot at getting federal legalization done now if we speak up.”
The website makes it easy for fans to contact their congressional representatives via email or phone to advocate for the legalization of marijuana. People will be emailed, posters will be posted in stores, information will be added to applications, and other methods will be used to urge customers to participate.
However, because it is still illegal to possess, consume, or sell marijuana under federal law, many banks are wary of dealing with money from the cannabis sector, fearing federal legal repercussions.
Many legitimate producers and sellers have been put in a bind as a result of the struggle, which has prevented them from accessing basic financial services such as opening a bank account or obtaining a credit card. Many businesses have also been forced to function solely on cash, making them easy targets for criminals.
For years, pro-legalization organizations have waged state and federal campaigns, and supporters are split on “Cannabis in Common,” which isn’t centered on any specific piece of legislation. According to the organizers, it breaks new ground by involving a large number of significant industry participants and rallying their clients.
“We just feel there’s a larger, untapped group of individuals that we would love to see weigh-in,” said Steve Hawkins, CEO of the U.S. Cannabis Council, an industry-led coalition organizing the campaign with HeadCount, a voter registration group. The council declined to disclose the cost.
Jeremy Unruh, a senior vice president of PharmCann Inc., which has dispensaries in six states, said that while cannabis companies have done individual lobbying, this new effort “reaches across all the peccadilloes that every weed interest brings to the table” in the hopes of getting past the patchwork of state legislation.
Canopy Growth, Curaleaf Holdings, and Cronos Group are among the more than two dozen organizations that have joined on, including the vaping brand Pax and publicly traded corporations like Canopy Growth, Curaleaf Holdings, and Cronos Group.
Some pro-legalization nonprofit organizations are joining the effort. However, at least one group, the Drug Policy Alliance, believes the campaign is too corporate and not focused enough to expunging previous marijuana convictions and assist communities and people who have been disproportionately affected by pot arrests.
“For us, it’s not just about getting federal legalization over the finish line,” says Maritza Perez of the alliance, which convened the nonprofit-focused Marijuana Justice Coalition in 2018 to push for legalization coupled with other reforms. “We have a very specific constituency that we are fighting for, and that’s people who have been impacted by prohibition.”
Last year, the House passed legislation decriminalizing marijuana, expunging federal marijuana convictions, and directing marijuana tax revenue to communities afflicted by the “war on drugs.” The bill was reintroduced in the new Congress this year and recently passed a critical committee.