Congress

Ex-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher joins ‘Craigslist of weed’ board

California Republican was a longtime champion of cannabis while in Congress

Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., has joined the board of a company dubbed the “Craigslist of weed.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has become a major shareholder and advisory board member of BudTrader, a California-based marijuana advertising website that has been christened the “Craigslist of Weed.

“I’m proud to announce I’ve joined [BudTrader] as a shareholder and advisory board member, so I may continue the fight for cannabis legalization on a national level,” the California Republican tweeted earlier this week.

[Marijuana legalization goes mainstream with first-ever forum in Capitol complex]

Rohrabacher lost his bid for a 16th term representing a longtime GOP seat in Orange County, going down to Democrat Harley Rouda by 7 points.

BudTrader CEO Brad McLaughlin, 35, announced last Thursday he would be opening the company up to public investors, according to the Times of San Diego.

“Only a select number of investors will be accepted, and it will be on a strict first-come, first-served basis,” McLaughlin wrote in an email announcement.

[Congressional fight over DC weed legalization could get sticky]

The minimum number of shares investors could buy was 420, at $1.25 per share.

Prospective investors were expected to demonstrate they had an annual income of $200,000 individually or $300,000 between themselves and a spouse. They could alternately qualify to invest by demonstrating a net worth of $1 million, excluding primary residence valuations.

CQ Roll Call’s most recent “Wealth of Congress” analysis from 2018 found that Rohrabacher had liabilities of $500,000, and only $100,000 in assets, based on his congressional financial disclosures. The disclosures do not cover all financial assets. For instance, a lawmaker is not required to reveal the value of his or her primary residence. 

Rohrabacher made marijuana advocacy a hallmark issue over his 30-year career in the House.

In 2014, he helped pass the landmark Rohrabacher-Farr amendment that barred the Justice Department from using federal funds to prosecute vendors of medical marijuana in states where it is legal. In 2017, he co-founded the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Other former members of Congress have also found opportunities in the pot industry. Most notably, former Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio is a board member of the Canadian medical marijuana production and dispensing company Acreage Holdings.

Former New York Rep. Joseph Crowley and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, both Democrats, sit on the board of another cannabis entity.

Rohrabacher, one of President Donald Trump’s most ardent defenders in the last Congress, had predicted the president would liberalize marijuana policies after the 2018 midterms.

Pro-marijuana lawmakers from both parties have interpreted the exit of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, an anti-marijuana hard-liner, as a sign of hope.

Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner has said Trump told him he is inclined to sign a bill from Gardner and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren that would allow states to decide for themselves whether marijuana should be legal and protect them from federal interference. 

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