Michigan marijuana campaign brings together activists, moneyed investors, tobacco dealers – Detroit Free Press


The medical marijuana industry is poised to explode with new state regulations and taxes on the dispensaries that will sell the weed. Kathleen Gray/Detroit Free Press

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This Wild Bill’s Tobacco shop, one of 68 in Michigan according to the company’s website, is on 10 Mile in Eastpointe on July 15, 2017. The stores already stock vaporizers, pipes and other equipment for using medical marijuana and the company was the biggest donor so far to the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.(Photo: Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo

A campaign to once again try to fully legalize marijuana in Michigan is getting big support from a Washington D.C. nonprofit activist group and from a tobacco store company that has talked of opening a chain of marijuana shops in the state.

The donor list, revealed in the latest campaign finance statements filed by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, alarmed critics who have long contended  that marijuana’s nationwide march toward legalization is being funded not by the idealistic stoners and medical-marijuana users long linked to the politics of cannabis but instead by a pack of profit-minded investors and corporate types said to be similar to Big Tobacco — the nation’s cigarette and cigar industry.

See the donor list: Michigan campaign statement contributions

“It’s obvious that these tobacco guys are making a play for the marijuana money,” Jeff Zinsmeister, executive vice president of Smart Alternatives to Marijuana, based in Alexandria, Va., said Friday. The group argues that Big Marijuana is “following the playbook of Big Tobacco,” hoping to get young people addicted to pot early on, then keep them as hapless customers for life, Zinsmeister said.

Those who support legalization argue that marijuana will be more difficult for youths to obtain, not less, after it passes.

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