NEVADA: After decades helping lead the fight against the national war on drugs, Ethan Nadelmann recently joined thousands of marijuana entrepreneurs here celebrating legalization — and found the scene kind of irritating.
The rapidly expanding legal pot industry has started to make some people rich, but the new pot capitalists are stingy about keeping the momentum for legalization building, Nadelmann said.
The wealthy donors who have long bankrolled groups like Nadelmann’s Drug Policy Alliance, anchored by billionaire George Soros, have taken notice. They got involved because of concerns over racial justice and civil liberties. If those issues are going to be overshadowed by the opportunity to sell cannabis candy bars to college kids, they’re starting to say, then maybe the people making the money should bear the cost.
“I have donors saying, ‘I see lots of people making money from this. Why aren’t they stepping up and paying for these campaigns?’” Nadelmann said over runny eggs at the Hash House coffee shop off the convention floor at the Rio Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, where the Marijuana Business Conference was taking place.