D.C.’s Pot Legalization Initiative Gets Some Unexpected Star Power

This long-haired soap tycoon has attracted a cult following for his inventively packaged hemp soap and history of strange political actions.

National Journal
Lucia Graves
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Lucia Graves
Feb. 7, 2014, 8:59 a.m.

Dis­trict of Columbia res­id­ents might know Dav­id Bron­ner, the Cali­for­nia-based own­er of Dr. Bron­ner’s Ma­gic Soaps, as the guy who camped out in front of the White House in a steel cage un­til au­thor­it­ies came and for­cibly re­moved him with a power saw. At the time he was protest­ing U.S. hemp policy. Now the own­er of a top-selling nat­ur­al-soap chain has turned his sights to oth­er per­ceived Wash­ing­ton wrongs.

In 2013 he donated $100,000 to suc­cess­ful leg­al­iz­a­tion ini­ti­at­ives in Col­or­ado and Wash­ing­ton; this year Bron­ner put $20,000 in­to an ini­ti­at­ive to make it leg­al for Dis­trict res­id­ents to pos­sess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, to sell an ounce at a time, and to grow three plants in their homes. (The lead pro­ponent of the ini­ti­at­ive, Adam Ei­denger, is Bron­ner’s D.C. me­dia dir­ect­or.)

It’s a sub­stan­tial amount of money for an ini­ti­at­ive, first filed with the D.C. Board of Elec­tions in Janu­ary, that has so far raised just $28,000. But more im­port­ant than the fin­an­cial sup­port is the celebrity of this pony-tailed marijuana act­iv­ist whose rain­bow Mer­cedes runs on french-fry grease.

Bron­ner, the grand­son of com­pany founder Emanuel Bron­ner, has man­aged to turn the quirky soap com­pany, which sells tingly, li­quid hemp soap in weirdly wordy la­bels, in­to a ro­bust busi­ness with sales in the tens of mil­lions.

The man is a mas­ter of mar­ket­ing ab­surdity, so per­haps it makes sense that in an age when oth­er hip­pie products like Burt’s Bees and Tom’s of Maine have been bought up by lar­ger con­sumer-goods com­pan­ies, Bron­ner has pur­sued a rad­ic­al polit­ic­al agenda seem­ingly at odds with run­ning a large busi­ness. Bey­ond leg­al­iz­a­tion ef­forts, Bron­ner’s polit­ic­al agenda in­cludes protest­ing policies that fail to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between oil­seed and fiber vari­et­ies of can­nabis, and he’s fight­ing the rise of ge­net­ic­ally mod­i­fied foods.

It’s not your typ­ic­al busi­ness move, but people love him for it. “As a res­id­ent, I’m truly thank­ful for the rare busi­ness lead­er like Dav­id who not only talks the talk about giv­ing back to com­munit­ies but who so clearly and con­sist­ently walks the walk,” said Tom An­gell, chair­man of pro-leg­al­iz­a­tion group Marijuana Ma­jor­ity. “We need more like him.”

The meas­ure, which would re­quire the sig­na­tures of 23,000 D.C. res­id­ents to make it on the bal­lot in Novem­ber, comes as Dis­trict coun­cil mem­bers are pre­par­ing to de­crim­in­al­ize pos­ses­sion of small amounts of marijuana. Un­der the de­crim­in­al­iz­a­tion bill, pos­ses­sion of an ounce or less would be pun­ish­able only with a $25 fine. The coun­cil backed the bill in a pre­lim­in­ary vote this week, and the meas­ure is ex­pec­ted to be signed in­to law by May­or Vin­cent Gray.

What We're Following See More »
60 VOTES NEEDED
Kaine and Warner Oppose CR
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
6 YEAR EXTENSION, NOT 30 DAYS
Cornyn Corrects Trump on CHIP
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
PRO-TRUMP SPENDING COULD VIOLATE FECA
FBI Investigating Potential Russian Donations to NRA
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.

Source:
VIOLATORS WOULD BE IDENTIFIED
Members Will Now Have to Pay Misconduct Settlements
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Senior House negotiators are set to unveil as soon as Thursday a bipartisan plan to shake up Capitol Hill’s workplace harassment system — and to force lawmakers found liable for misconduct to pay settlements with their own money. ... The Hill's Office of Compliance, which adjudicates workplace harassment claims, would release a report every six months on misconduct settlements, including the identities of the offices involved."

Source:
UNDERMINES ALLIES ON CHIP, WALL
Trump Tweets Complicate Shutdown Talks
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump on Thursday undermined efforts by House Republican leaders and his own staff to avoid a government shutdown, criticizing a decision to include an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in a GOP-crafted stopgap spending bill." He said the CHIP fix “should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!” Earlier this morning, he contradicted Chief of Staff John Kelly, saying that his views on the Mexican border wall have not "evolved," and he still expects Mexico to pay for it.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login