Republican billionaire Charles Koch is wading into the marijuana legalization push after a Zoom call with Snoop Dogg, Politico reports.
The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity teamed with the libertarian Reason Foundation and other groups to launch the Cannabis Freedom Alliance on Tuesday.
The move could upend the marijuana debate in the US, which has been dominated by left-leaning groups like the Drug Policy Alliance and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
The coalition also includes The Weldon Project, a nonprofit founded by criminal justice reform advocate Weldon Angelos to release people imprisoned for marijuana-related offenses.
“We can’t cut with one scissor blade. We need Republicans in order to pass [a legalization bill],” Angelos, who served 13 years in prison for a marijuana charge before being pardoned by Trump last December, told Politico.
Group launched after Snoop call:
The idea of the coalition began in a Zoom call with Koch, Angelos, and Snoop Dogg last summer.
Koch on the call expressed support for legalizing all drugs, according to the report.
“I had known that his position on drugs was very libertarian,” Angelos said. “I just didn't know that he supported the legalization of all drugs.”
Angelos reached out to the Koch network for help advocating for federal legalization.
“We need 10 to 12 Republican senators,” Angelos said. “With Koch’s influence, I think that's likely a possibility.”
Democrats renew marijuana push:
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Politico earlier this week that Democrats will move ahead with a proposal to legalize marijuana federally with or without support from President Joe Biden.
Schumer, who introduced a bill to legalize marijuana in 2018, vowed to push Biden to join the effort.
“I want to make my arguments to him, as many other advocates will,” Schumer said. “But at some point we're going to move forward, period.“
Schumer said that states that have already legalized marijuana have proven that conservative concerns are overblown.
“The legalization of states worked out remarkably well,“ he said. “They were a great success. The parade of horribles never came about, and people got more freedom.“