Beer and cigarette makers join the pot lobbying parade

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Pot may be illegal at the federal level but corporate giants and K Street are preparing for the push to legalize

The push to legalize marijuana quickly transformed the cannabis industry into a multibillion dollar legal business. And now Fortune 500 companies and elite K Street lobbying firms have joined the green gold rush.

Altria, the tobacco giant better known for Marlboros, recently took a $1.8 billion stake in the cannabis company Cronos Group. Constellation Brands, which makes Corona beer, has spent money on cannabis lobbying after making a major investment in Canopy Growth, a Canadian marijuana company. On K Street, powerhouse firms like Holland & Knight — which has represented Comcast, Google and Dow Chemical — have taken on marijuana clients.

The arrival of corporate giants and K Street firms represents a tipping point for the mainstreaming of marijuana legalization in Washington, even while marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. And while there’s a long way to go before Congress goes the way of 30-plus states and legalizes medical or recreational sales, it’s clear that special interests think there’s money to be made trying to change federal drug policies.

There are already signs of progress — one bill loosening banking rules has already advanced out of a House committee — and the action is expected to heat up with Democrats in control of the House and Democratic presidential candidates backing marijuana legalization.[Read More @ Politico]

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