Meet GOP Anti-Legalization MP Cashing In Marijuana Stocks
Rep. Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina with an influential position on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, has spent her career in Congress defending the legalization of marijuana – while charging hundreds of thousands of dollars in the upcoming marijuana industry stocks. crucial votes on key federal decriminalization measures, Salon learned.
Foxx, 77, has made at least six investments in Altria, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies and a leader in the burgeoning cannabis industry in the United States, since September of last year, according to financial disclosure reports.
The purchases, which were previously unreported, likely make him the largest holder of marijuana-related stocks in Congress, according to a report of unusual whales, a market research company. It’s impossible to say for sure, however, as members of Congress are not required to disclose the exact amounts of their investments.
Trades are particularly interesting for their timing: just a few months before the US House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement Act (MORE) in December, which would serve to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level – a key objective of advocates who say the drug’s current status as a controlled substance represents a major obstacle to full legalization. Foxx voted against the measure.
Its investments raise concerns about the ethical issues members of Congress create when trading individual stocks within an industry that their stocks have the potential to influence.
“This is obviously a conflict of interest, I just don’t know what else to say, really,” Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer under the president, told Salon. George W. Bush and professor of law at the University of Minnesota. “It calls into question his credibility as a legislator.”
Representative Foxx’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The MORE law was ultimately not passed for a then Republican-controlled Senate vote, which effectively killed the measure. It was reintroduced to the House on Friday by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-New York, and has a greater chance of success given the new Democratic majority in the Senate.
At least four of Foxx’s investments in stocks in the marijuana industry came between the initial vote on the MORE law in December and Friday. In all, records show that she purchased between $ 79,000 and $ 210,000 in Altria stock. It is still unclear whether she currently owns these investments – although no sales have been reported.
Legalization has been a burning issue for the representative from North Carolina, whose inflammatory public statements on the issue have been strongly opposed to several initiatives led by House Democrats.
“Democrats can’t get rid of pot bills, and they think it’s more important than: supporting small businesses, safe schools reopening, protecting Americans’ livelihoods,” she said. written on Twitter. “No wonder their majority is shrinking. They are so far removed from reality.”
“What are Republicans fighting to protect? Jobs,” she wrote in another tweet about President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill. “What are the Democrats fighting to protect? Pot. What a joke.”
While her marijuana-related investments likely eclipse other members, she is far from the only congressman to profit from the budding industry – at least 20 House members and six senators have reported buying or selling industry shares since 2020, according to records.
Two other representatives stand out for their significant investments in cannabis over the past year: Representative John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, and Representative Brian Mast, R-Florida.
Representative Yarmuth, co-sponsor of the MORE Act with a powerful position as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, wins the record for the most diverse marijuana industry portfolio in Congress – with November investments in Canopy Growth Corporation, Aurora Cannabis and Tilray, as well as February takeovers at the same three companies, according to public disclosures. He also reported on previous investments in at least three other industry stocks, according to unusual whales: Cronos Group, Altria and Anheuser-Busch, whose main business is not marijuana, but which has recently launched several high profile companies in the arena. Yarmuth remains one of the strongest advocates of legalization in Congress.
Rep Mast was one of five Republicans to vote to endorse the MORE law – but not before buying between $ 15,000 and $ 50,000 from Tilray, the Canadian cannabis giant, disclosure reports show. Mast is a US Army veteran who lost both legs in an explosion in Afghanistan. He has generally supported more research on the effects of legalization and said at a town hall in 2016 that he is a “promoter of alternative forms of medicine”.