Louisiana’s new cannabis law gives LSU and HBCU Southern U. the right of first refusal to grow. That seems cautious, and a useful plan.
But if they refuse, there is to be an auction, with a single winner, for the right to grow. People worry about political influence that benefits the cannabis industry. Search RAND’s Insights for Vermont, http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR864.html for the word “lobby” and you’ll find lots of concern.
The Louisiana Legislature must share that concern about political influence, as indicated by Louisiana’s new rule that would cut back on it. Here is the new law’s restriction on who may bid at auction (complete with line numbers):
No company that has made a contribution to a candidate in a
5 Louisiana election governed by the provisions of the Campaign Finance
6 Disclosure Act within the five years prior to bidding for the license, or is
7 controlled wholly or in part by a person who made such a contribution within
8 the five years prior to the company bidding for the license, may be eligible for
9 the license.
Who says there are no new and fresh ideas? You can look it up. The statute is at http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/ViewDocument.aspx?d=960317. That’s section J.7, on page 7.
It looks like every election is “governed by the provisions of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act.“ Control might not necessarily require 50-percent-plus voting power, thanks to the words “wholly or in part.”
So lots of people who gave to a candidate in the last five years cannot bid. Does that comport with freedom of speech? Louisiana’s Constitution has an independent freedom of speech clause.
Meanwhile, there’s no restriction on political donations after winning the auction. That seems to open the door to lots of lobbying. But how future restrictions would comport with free speech escapes me.