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Gavin Newsom Racking Up Cannabis $$$ in California Governors Race

August 21, 2017

Campaign donations from the cannabis industry are starting to pop up in campaign disclosure forms in California, as the race to replace Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018 heats up. One candidate continues to separate himself, as current Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has received over $320,000 in campaign donations from people associated with the cannabis industry.

Newsom has raised more than $320,000 from cannabis industry sources.

Cannabis industry campaign donations only make up a fraction of Newsom’s donation total; the LA Times reports he has around $16 million in campaign donations so far. But the Lieutenant Governor has made it a campaign priority to hear out folks from the soon-to-be flourishing cannabis industry in California.

In an interview with the LA Times, political insiders told the paper that the industry’s political donations show how an industry that was once underground is now becoming a part of the establishment.

“In other industries, there’s an expectation that you’re at the table before legislation is passed,” Elizabeth Ashford, a former aide to Gov. Brown and California Sen. Kamala Harris, told the Times. “These businesses have evolved to that point.”

Though Newsom has said he’s never consumed cannabis, he was one of the first statewide officeholders to publicly support Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis for adult consumption this past year.

Scrolling through the list of Newsom’s donors also turns up several key advocates and mega donors for Prop. 64, including PayPal cofounder and Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel, and philanthropist and legalization advocate George Soros. Both have donated more than $100,000 combined to Newsom’s campaign.

Other noteworthy Newsom campaign donors include entertainer Bill Maher, NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, and the widow of Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs.

The LA Times reports that some in the industry see Newsom as a candidate who listens to their concerns and will stick up for them.

It should be noted though, that Newsom isn’t the only gubernatorial candidate to support cannabis legalization efforts. State Treasurer John Chiang, who’s also running to succeed Gov. Brown, has been leading efforts to reform the cannabis banking system. Currently, he is working with a group that is debating reforms that could give cannabis companies full access to banks.

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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