COLORADO: As the Colorado legislature this year raced in its final weeks to get crucial marijuana regulations out the door, money spent on marijuana lobbying came rushing in.
According to state records, advocacy groups on both sides of pot issues spent at least $183,000 on lobbyists in April and May. The money spent on marijuana lobbying in that period — during which the legislature met for a total of 5½ weeks — was more than double the amount of money spent on marijuana lobbying during the legislative session’s first three months combined, the records show. And it makes up more than half of all the lobbying expenditures on marijuana issues for the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to tallies by The Denver Post.
In total, groups focusing on marijuana issues have spent at least $331,000 in the past year on lobbyists. That figure does not include the money spent by numerous other groups — everything from law-enforcement organizations to labor unions to ski resorts to a national liquor trade group — that have registered interest in marijuana bills in lobbying disclosure forms but have also lobbied on many other issues.
The figure could also rise as lobbyists report payments that came after the session from marijuana clients they worked for during the session. For instance, the influential lobbying firm Headwaters Strategies reported in its disclosures doing work for Medbox, a company that makes vending machines capable of dispensing marijuana. The firm, however, has not yet reported receiving any payment from the company.
Pro-pot lobby spending
Lobbying money spent by groups in favor of marijuana legalization or medical marijuana dwarfs that of money spent by groups concerned about the impact of looser marijuana laws.
In the past year, pro-marijuana groups have spent at least $269,000 on lobbying over the past year. Groups concerned about marijuana have spent $59,000.