By Emily Ledger
A new campaign is bringing together high-profile celebrities and cannabis businesses looking to enlist the support of cannabis users to pressure politicians to legalise cannabis at the federal level.
The “Cannabis in Common” initiative launched this week, enlisting the help of celebrities including actor, comedian, and cannabis enthusiast Seth Rogen and comedian Sarah Silverman.
The campaign includes the launch of a website, designed to make it easier for voters to email or call their congressional representatives to rally them to support legalisation bills. State-licensed cannabis companies and dispensaries are also planning to call their customers to action through emails and posters.
In a kick-off video for the campaign, Seth Rogen says: “Legalising cannabis is long past due, and if we make enough noise, we can make it happen.”
In another promotion for the initiative, Sarah Silverman stated: “Fortunately, there is at least one thing most Americans have in common: more than two-thirds of us agree cannabis should be legalised and we have a real shot at getting federal legalization done now if we speak up.”
Recreational cannabis has already been legalised in 18 states and Washington D.C. and the medical use of the drug is permitted in more than two-thirds of US states. However, the drug remains prohibited at the federal level – for medical and recreational use.
This ongoing federal prohibition means many banks are still not engaging with state-legal cannabis businesses, restricting them from accessing even basic banking services such as opening a bank account. This leaves many of these businesses in a vulnerable position, with many forced to deal solely in cash.
A number of draft bills have progressed through Congress in recent years, including the SAFE Banking Act which would make it easier for legal cannabis businesses to access banking services. However, none of these bills has yet been signed into law.
While the initiative has gained substantial support, many pro-legalisation groups and advocates are reportedly split over “Cannabis in Common”, as it isn’t focused on any particular piece of legislation.
However, organisers argue that the initiative breaks new ground by bringing together industry members and voters.
Steve Hawkins, CEO of the US Cannabis Council – an industry-led coalition that is organising the campaign alongside HeadCount, voter registration group – said: “We just feel there’s a larger, untapped group of individuals that we would love to see weigh in.”
A large number of cannabis companies have signed up for the initiative, including corporations Canopy Growth, Curaleaf Holdings, and Cronos Group.
Support for cannabis legalisation across the US is maintaining strength. According to a recent Gallup poll, 68% of Americans are in favour of legalisation, including 83% of Democrats, 71% of independents and 50% of Republicans.