And that is keeping Norml and MPP, both headquartered in Washington, busy.
MPP is probably the most traditional lobbying organization of the three major pot lobbies.
“We have a PAC (as does Norml). We've played in federal elections, and I am plugged in to groups inside the Beltway of all political persuasions. Norml tends to be more of a consumer organization for marijuana users," says Houston.
In late March, even the National Republican Congressional Committee accepted a $5,000 check from MPP.
“The GOP leadership realizes that state-level regulation of marijuana is popular among their most active constituency right now, the tea party movement, whose members would like to see states decide the issue, like we do with alcohol,” Houston told reporters. “There is a huge amount of bipartisan agreement on this issue.”
That's certainly more the case today than in the 1970s, when Joyce Nalepka began her fight against drugs. The founder of Drug-Free Kids: America's Challenge, has been lobbying against marijuana at a state or national level since 1977, and reckons she's "met with every member of Congress" on the issue.
"It took me years to convince people it is our most dangerous drug because it’s the one that people think isn’t harmful,'' says Nalepka. "It's the gateway drug."
Her organization is a diverse international network of groups, including law enforcement, parental, educational, religious and civic ones, such as the Elks Club.
The Elks' drug awareness program page on marijuana states: "Legalization sends a clear message to youth that drugs are not that bad and that society is not willing to pay the cost to protect them."
Though anti-drug groups typically base their argument on ethical, as well as personal and public safety issues, they have little, if any, skin in the game.
That's not the case with the multi-billion dollar drug treatment industry, whose clientele includes marijuana users, many of whom do not check themselves in over concerns about abuse.
"Many people who end up going through treatment are put there because, say, you were driving and got stopped for a traffic light and you happened to have a joint, and you’re told well, you are going to get arrested for this marijuana unless you go to this three-week outpatient anti-marijuana treatment," says Professor Jeffrey Miron of Harvard University, one of the nation's foremost experts on drug policy and economics. "The vast majority of such people have no need for any anti-marijuana treatment; it’s just a handout to the treatment sector."
History: Grassroots To Policy Wonks