A Washington, D.C., lobbying organization that played a major role in Vermont’s becoming the ninth state to adopt a medical marijuana law appears to be on a record-setting spending spree, reports the Rutland Herald. The Medical Marijuana Policy Project said it spent nearly $218,000 during the first half of 2004. That approaches the highest known complete-year spending total in Vermont lobbying history.
Lobbyists for the Policy Project were constant visitors to the Vermont State House this past winter. In May, the Legislature legalized the use and possession of marijuana by people suffering from AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Gov. James Douglas opposes the medical use of marijuana, but allowed the initiative to become law without his signature. The Policy Project, which has a $7 million 2004 lobbying war chest, spent money locally on a combination full-court press with lawmakers and a statewide media campaign to educate voters. It receives money from its 15,000 members nationwide and from other sources. Nancy Lynch of the Policy Project’s Vermont office said that Vermont is only the nation’s second state legislature to pass a medical marijuana bill; the other seven were voter initiatives.