Gavin Newsom —the current California lieutenant general, the former mayor of San Francisco and the favorite to become the next governor of the Golden State — has scooped up roughly 98 percent of the cannabis contributions so far. And the charismatic politician, who regularly appears on national television, will likely continue to dominate the race for donor dollars.
According to an analysis published last month in Los Angeles Times, marijuana growers, retailers and others industry insiders have donated more than $300,000 to Newsom’s campaign, far outdistancing contributions to his likely chief competitors, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ($5,000) and Treasurer John Chiang ($100).
The Times reported:
Though pot businesses’ contributions are only a fraction of Newsom’s $14-million war chest, the cannabis industry’s open pursuit of political influence shows how a once-underground business is becoming a part of the establishment. So far, donors with a tie to the plant have given more to candidates for governor than all other farmers in the state’s agriculture industry combined.
“All of us feel confident that Gavin will push us through,” Valentia Piccinini, a cannabis industry investor who has donated $20,000 to Newsom’s campaign, told the Times. “I think he really passionately believes in what we’re doing.”
Of course, marijuana is already a multi-billion dollar a year business in California — and recreational sales will not begin until 2018.
Newsom has been an ardent supporter of marijuana law reform for years. Much like his early supporter of same-sex marriage, Newsom broke away from the “safe” political position and became the political face of the movement within the state. He was one of the most vocal California politicians supporting Prop. 64, the 2016 initiative legalizing cannabis in California.
Newsom says he is not a cannabis consumer, but he has actively sought donations from those marijuana users and industry lobbyists.