For decades, cannabis legalization was an off-limits topic in Washington D.C., particularly among Republican politicians. Only a few years ago, a conservative lawmaker who wanted to talk about marijuana was branded as an outsider, and any discussion of legalization within the party was seen as an abandonment of the GOP’s deeply entrenched identification with traditional values.
Now, the decades-old status quo in the GOP seems to be shifting. As the green tidal wave of cannabis legalization by states sweeps across the U.S. with lightning speed, the Republican Party seems to be bucking tradition and going green.
This was made even more evident last week, when prominent cannabis tech CEO and well known advocate for cannabis safe access Brad McLaughlin traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with lawmakers and Republican leadership. McLaughlin, who helms the largest legal online cannabis marketplace BudTrader.com, is a figurehead in the cannabis community, and has become the de facto spokesperson on the topic of legalization.
The purpose of McLaughlin’s visit was to discuss the current status of the legal cannabis industry, as well as potential reform. McLaughlin met with prominent Republican lawmakers at the Capitol, as well as at the Trump International Hotel, September 27th and 28th.
McLaughlin was invited to Washington D.C. by Southern California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who staunchly supports cannabis legalization for both medical and recreational purposes. Congressman Rohrabacher is currently serving his 15th term in Congress, representing the 48th District of California.
“I Invited Brad McLaughlin out because he is a leader in the incredible, emerging cannabis industry,” says Congressman Rohrabacher, “and one of only a handful of cannabis entrepreneurs who has the expertise and sophistication to bring the level of professionalism that is needed when meeting with some of the most conservative members of Congress.”
On Thursday, September 27th, McLaughlin attended a Republican Party fundraiser where he met President Trump, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and many more Republican members of Congress (the entire Republican Congressional Delegation was in attendance).
"In my meetings with members of Congress, I continually stressed that we could create jobs, lower crime, generate tax revenue for schools and infrastructure, fight opiate addiction, help our honored veterans, take carbon out of the atmosphere, remove toxins from our soil and create a second gold rush or ‘green rush’ for American farmers and entrepreneurs by legalizing cannabis," says McLaughlin.
Some of the topics that were discussed with Republican leadership and members of Congress included the ways in which legal cannabis could fight the opiate epidemic, how growing cannabis/hemp can remove carbon from the air and toxins from the soil, how legal cannabis could help veterans with PTSD, the need for FDIC insured banking services for cannabis businesses, and cannabis/hemp as a “Cash Crop” for struggling US farmers.
“I did not experience any kind of negativity for being the CEO of a cannabis technology company. Republican leaders were open minded, cooperative, friendly and engaged in our meetings. They asked a lot of great questions and had a lot of great ideas. I feel like some major policy changes are on the horizon for cannabis,” says BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has been in the corner of cannabis legalization for years, long before the GOP adopted its friendly stance on the issue. He co-authored the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in 2014, marking the first time either chamber of U.S. Congress had voted to protect cannabis patients. Congressman Rohrabacher also founded the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in 2017. Now that his Republican colleagues have finally begun to thaw on the issue of legalizing marijuana, Congressman Rohrabacher sees policy change on the horizon, starting at the top.
"Love him or hate him, President Trump keeps his promises,” Congressman Rohrabacher says. “During the 2016 Presidential campaign, President Donald Trump stated that medical cannabis should be legal, and that individual states should decide on adult use [recreational] cannabis. The President is a man of his word, and cannabis reform is coming very soon at the Federal level.”
“It could be as early as Spring of 2019,” the Congressman says, “but definitely in the next legislative session.”
Also accompanying McLaughlin and Congressman Rohrabacher was Jason Beck, one of the first and most successful medical marijuana dispensary operators and marijuana cultivators in the United States. Born with cerebral palsy, Mr. Beck is in the unique position of being a patient, caregiver, business owner, cultivation specialist, advocate and advisor in the medical and adult (personal) use of marijuana.
Upon opening the first dispensary in West Hollywood, CA, Beck was granted permission from the state to legally grow and cultivate cannabis plants. He has been producing award-winning marijuana and edible marijuana products since 2004, while supporting and promoting the businesses of numerous other growers and producers. Recently, Mr. Beck has come on board as a finance chairman for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, as well as a point person for Congressman Rohrabacher on cannabis policy and legislation. As the longest continuous retail cannabis operator in the United States, Mr. Beck brings a level of expertise that only such experience can provide.
Like Congressman Rohrabacher, BudTrader’s CEO Brad McLaughlin predicts a monumental shift in cannabis policy coming very soon. "The green rush is happening,” McLaughlin says. “The genie is out of the bottle and there is no going back at this point. Cannabis is the next industrial revolution.”
McLaughlin has been at the helm of BudTrader since 2015, and along with his team of ‘computer nerds and information scientists’, has built BudTrader.com into the largest online cannabis marketplace on Earth. Its platform is currently available in 31 states where cannabis use is legal, as well as in Washington D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico. BudTrader has two million registered users who safely and legally post and reply to classifieds-style ads for cannabis products, services, jobs, equipment and more.