Marijuana businesses are employing former national and state politicians as well as regulators to help them traverse the dynamic background surrounding marijuana legislation and lobbying efforts as they try to advance the cannabis industry.
For instance, earlier this month, Green Leaf Commission, which is based in Maryland, hired Joy Strand to help coordinate the company’s governments relation across several states. Strands are the former executive director of the Medical Cannabis Commission in Maryland.
This cycle of employment is a sign of the maturation of the marijuana industry since other industries, such as the financial sector, energy, and health care firm industries have been relying on the expertise, and insider connections of former politicians and ex-government officials to help them shape the legislative, and regulatory policies that affect the respective sectors.
Acreage Holding is based in New York, and it is one of the notable marijuana companies that has adopted this trend. Acreage Holdings trades on the Canadian Securities Exchange as ACRG.U. It also trades at the over-the-counter markets as ACGRF.
Acreage Holding is among the largest marijuana companies in the U.S., and its board of directors is the former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. The former prime minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney, also sits on the board.
While in the U.S. Congress, Boehner was opposed to marijuana legalization, but when the opioid epidemic escalated, he was educated on the benefits of medical marijuana as well as the need for research.
Speaking to Marijuana Business Daily, the CEO and Chair of Acreage Holdings, Kevin Murphy said that legislative marijuana reforms greatly influence the company’s path, as well as the entire cannabis industry.
Murphy further said that his company decided to build a Board of Directors that could deliver political connections and deep business experienced the highly regulated marijuana industry.
Dean Grafilo is another former politician who joined Sacramento, California, firm Capitol Advocacy as it envied his close relations with the politicians and his 20 years of experience in legislative process and policy.
Capitol Advocacy marijuana clients include Parallel and Crosstown California Holdings. The parallel is based in Atlanta, and it is a vertically integrated producer and seller of marijuana products, and in 2019, the company paid $120,000 to Capitol Advocacy for their services. Crosstown Holdings operates the NFuzed brand of cannabis inhalers and edibles.
At the end of 2017, Grafillo created the Bureau of Cannabis Control, which is responsible for awarding to marijuana businesses such as dispensaries, distributors, and testing laboratories.
Before Grafilo transferred to consumer affairs, he was the chief of staff for the State Assembly Member Rob Bonta. Bonta is the lead developer of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which created the licensing, labeling, and tracking systems used in regulating medical marijuana in California.
At the beginning of 2017, Mika Malonis, who was also a top aide of Rob Bonta, left his position for K Street Consulting based in Sacramento. K Street Consulting lobbied in 2019 on behalf of Flow Kana company, which is based in Mendocino County for a bill allowing the licensed companies to share product samples with its employees free of charge but not to the public.
Vice president of Flow Kana’s policy initiative, Michael Wheeler, said that he was looking to hire someone with more knowledge on regulations when hired K Street. Wheeler further said that Mikalonis has a high memory when it comes to citing code, and he understands every challenging aspect of the marijuana industry.
In 2019, Flow Kana paid $112,000 to K Street Consulting for their services. K Street’s other marijuana clients include Los Angeles Delivery Alliance and Palomar Craft Cannabis.
Hdl Consulting is the most influential marijuana firm in Orange County, California, as it has experts in marijuana tax policy, law enforcement, legislation, and compliance. And it is helping shape the world’s largest adult-use marketplace city-to-city. Demand for their services has increased since California voters approved adult-use marijuana in 2016 because marijuana business needs the approval of the city of the county before applying for state permits.
Mark Lovelace, who started working at Hdl in 2017, said that the state left much work for the local governments. Previously, Lovelace worked as the Humboldt County Board Supervisor and helped develop a framework for regulating marijuana within the state. He also helped implement a voter-approved tax on commercial marijuana cultivation and track-and-trace pilot program.