You can always count on a drug war zealot to say something dumb when addressing marijuana legalization questions. Carolyn Short, a retired lawyer who chairs the Arizona-based Keep AZ Drug Free and opposed marijuana legalization efforts in that state, recently bemoaned the infiltration of pot-related businesses in political campaign fundraising.
“I don’t think money from illegal activities, whether child porn or marijuana, should be used to fund political campaigns, and I think most people agree with me,” Short recently told ColoradoWatchdog.org. “The whole idea behind the money laundering statute that prohibits banks from taking in the money is you don’t want to encourage or abet criminal activity.”
Colorado Watchdog reached out to Short as part of a well-researched analysis of Colorado marijuana firms diving into the political process by handing out contributions to local, state, and federal political candidates. Even though federal money laundering laws prevent banks from accepting deposits from marijuana, there is nothing stopping federal elected officials, like Congressman Ed Perlmutter and several other members of the Colorado delegation, from taking checks provided by marijuana business owners.
Other legal experts interviewed by Colorado Watchdog provided responses that were more grounded in reality. University of Colorado constitutional law professor Richard Collins believes that the new federal banking guidelines for marijuana businesses, as well as the First Amendment right of political speech, gives candidates the leeway to accept pot political contributions. “I’m confident a candidate is in the clear,” he said. “As long as the activity within the state is legal, the contribution is legal.”
Obviously, marijuana businesses believe they are in the clear or else they wouldn’t be pumping money to candidates for office. Colorado Watchdog found that political action committees and individuals who operate marijuana-related businesses have contributed at least $20,000 to Colorado federal candidates. The report also noted that Perlmutter rounded up twenty grand at a July fundraiser.