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No joke: Comedians, cannabis companies push cannabis legalization

FILE – Seth Rogen appears at a premiere in Los Angeles on Oct. 28, 2019. Big cannabis companies are backing a new, celebrity-studded campaign to legalize marijuana nationwide, hoping to build pressure on Congress from constituents who haven’t always made themselves heard: marijuana users. “Legalizing cannabis is long past due, and if we make enough noise, we can make it happen,” actor Seth Rogen, a cannabis company co-founder himself, says in a kickoff video. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Big cannabis companies are backing a new, celebrity-infused campaign to enlist marijuana users to pressure members of Congress to legalize pot nationwide.

Federal legalization has advanced somewhat but still faces strong headwinds on Capitol Hill. The “Cannabis in Common” initiative launched Tuesday aims to change that.

A website makes it easier for supporters to email or call their congressional representatives and push for making marijuana legal. State-licensed pot companies also plan to email their customers, put up posters in shops, add information to their apps and otherwise encourage consumers to get involved.

“Legalizing cannabis is long past due, and if we make enough noise, we can make it happen,” actor Seth Rogen, co-founder of a cannabis company and enthusiastic user of the drug, says in a kickoff video. Comedian Sarah Silverman voices another, animated promo.

Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational adult use of marijuana and a voter-approved measure in a 19th state, South Dakota, is undergoing a court challenge. More than two-thirds of states allow medical marijuana.

But pot remains illegal under federal law to possess, use or sell, so many banks shun money from the cannabis industry, fearing it could expose them to federal legal trouble.

That conflict has shut many legal growers and sellers out of everyday financial services like opening bank accounts or obtaining credit cards. It also has forced many businesses to operate only in cash, making them ripe targets for crime.

Pro-legalization groups have mounted state and federal campaigns for years, and advocates are split about “Cannabis in Common,” which isn’t focused on any particular piece of legislation. Organizers say it breaks ground by extensively involving major industry players and mobilizing their customers.

“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.

While cannabis companies have done individual lobbying, this new effort “reaches across all the peccadilloes that every weed interest brings to the table” in hopes of getting past the patchwork of state legislation, said Jeremy Unruh, a senior vice president of PharmCann Inc., which has dispensaries in six states.

More than two dozen companies have signed on, including the vaping brand Pax and such publicly traded corporations as Canopy Growth, Curaleaf Holdings and Cronos Group.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Jennifer Peltz on Associated Press

Published: November 10, 2021

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