GAI ‘Cannabis Cronyism’ Report: Top Democrats Financially Benefit from Ties to Marijuana Industry

A woman from Seattle, smokes a joint at the first annual DOPE Cup, a cannabis competition in Portland, Oregon, on October 4, 2015. As of October 1, 2015 limited amounts of recreational marijuana became legal for all adults over the age of 21 to purchase in the state of Oregon. …
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

The Government Accountability Institute (GAI) published a “Cannabis Croynism” investigation on Friday detailing potential political corruption surrounding the $21 billion marijuana industry, including conflicts of interest involving former Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY).

The GAI’s Eric Eggers joined Friday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow to discuss the report’s findings.

“John Boehner stands to make $20 million dollars if marijuana … becomes legalized nationally,” Egger said. “He’s gonna a long-time associate and employed with the cannabis industry. That’s a big time 180, philosophically, from where he’s been.”

The New York Times reported on Boehner’s commodification of his political pedigree within the marijuana industry in 2019:

Mr. Boehner’s pro-weed epiphany coincides with the prospect of a payday as high as $20 million from the industry he once so vigorously opposed. He sits on the board of Acreage Holdings, a marijuana investment firm whose sale to a cannabis industry giant hinges on Mr. Boehner’s ability to persuade Congress and the federal government to legalize, or at least legitimize, marijuana.

Boehner joined the board of Acreage Holdings in 2018, a firm that invests in marijuana cultivation, processing, and sales.


Eggers remarked, “New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in 2017, was very much against marijuana being legalized. He called it a ‘gateway’ drug. By 2019, [he was] singing a very different tune, and you look into it, he hired as his campaign staff a number of marijuana lobbyists. He received — between campaign donations and lobbying efforts — over a million dollars … from the marijuana industry, and now, by 2019, [there is] no bigger fan of cannabis legalization than Andrew Cuomo.”

On January 6, Cuomo announced a proposal to legalize and regulate cannabis in the Empire State.

Eggers noted, “Nancy Pelosi’s son is  working in the [cannabis] industry.”

The GAI reported:

Paul Pelosi Jr., the son of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was named Chairman of the Board of Directors of Freedom Leaf, Inc., a consulting firm advising the budding marijuana industry. The following year, the company entered the CBD distribution business, while Pelosi purchased more than $100,000 in company stock.

The marijuana industry is a potential avenue for foreign procurement of political influence, warned Eggers. “The FBI is [investigating] the way that marijuana has been used as a conduit or funnel for foreign money — potentially Russian money — to make its way into the hands and the pockets and the campaigns of American politicians,” he said.

Eggers considered a possible relationship between the cannabis industry’s lobbying and governmental ties with marijuana sales being deemed an “essential” service in varying states and localities during ostensibly public-health-related lockdown decrees.

“When the pandemic happened in March, my kids couldn’t go to school anymore and my church was closed down,” Eggers stated. “Marijuana dispensaries remained open. In 30 different states where they issued stay-at home-orders of some form or fashion, marijuana dispensaries were allowed to stay open.”

Eggers remarked, “I make no judgments about how anyone chooses to medicate themselves and get through this current era of a global pandemic and all the different challenges it poses. … Whatever the rationale has been [for designating marijuana dispensaries as ‘essential], it’s certainly worth  including the data point of how much money is on the line [and] how much money is being spent.”

“Where I live [in Tallahassee, Florida], cannabis dispensaries are more prevalent than Walgreens,” Eggers shared. “How did that happen? Why did we get to this [point] where it’s so ubiquitous in the streets, and why were they allowed to remain open when virtually every other aspect of American life was closing up during the pandemic? I think this report can answer some of those questions.” 

A Politico report published January 31 relayed expectations within the marijuana industry of broad national legalization given Democrat control of Congress and the White House.

Eggers described a mutually beneficial financial tied between the marijuana industry and Democrat politicians.

“It’s not just that Democrats are good for the marijuana industry,” Eggers said. “The marijuana industry has been really good for the Democrats we have top Democratic officials in a number of states — including New York, Illinois, and Florida — that have benefited either through friends or family financially … from financial ties to the marijuana industry. It’s an extensive network.”

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