According to California’s Political Reform Act, full-time employees and contracted consultants for state legislators cannot accept unreported gifts worth more than $10 from lobbyists in any given calendar month. Unfortunately for a political aide to California Senate President pro tempore Kevin de León, he wasn’t up to speed on the rules–sort of. It turns out the aide accepted at least $85 in marijuana products from a pot lobbyist back in May, all while telling the lobbyist that his boss needed to be “educated” into taking a more liberal stance on medical marijuana.
There is a loophole in this case, though. According to an article in Buzzfeed, this specific aide isn’t an employee of Mr. de León, although he refers to him as his boss. In fact, the aide is technically paid by the California Democratic Party and so he isn’t required by law to report his gift. The political advisor, whose name is Josh Drayton, accepted at least one hash oil–filled vaporizer pen and a container of marijuana edibles from pot lobbyist Nate Bradley, all in front of a BuzzFeed News reporter.
Public officials exchanging gifts and favors with lobbyists is nothing new and has always been a concern for Americans. But Buzzfeed points out that with the legalization of marijuana expanding, canna-lobbyists could begin to get the attention of certain politicians not just with money, but with weed.
By the way, de León happens to be one of the most powerful Democrats in California state government and is said to have a major influence over whether a bill that would create a regulatory framework for medical marijuana will pass the state Senate next month. If passed, the bill would provide a state-level licensing system to codify the existence of cannabis businesses, which are currently running in what most California ganjapreneurs call the “unregulated legal gray area”.