BUSINESS

Dr. Bronner's Just Made A Dank Donation In Fight For Legal Weed

It plans to give over half a million to nonprofits campaigning for this change.
CEO David Bronner was once arrested for locking himself in a cage full of hemp in the middle of Washington, D.C. 
CEO David Bronner was once arrested for locking himself in a cage full of hemp in the middle of Washington, D.C. 

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps wants to see laws legalizing marijuana get puff-puff passed. 

The endearingly quirky organic soap-maker said Monday it plans to donate $660,000 to two nonprofit groups ― New Approach and the Marijuana Policy Project ― campaigning for legal weed in California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona and Nevada. In November, all five states are set to vote on ballot measures that could make recreational marijuana use legal. 

“The expected sweep of these states will exert enormous pressure on federal lawmakers to end the racist, outdated policy of cannabis prohibition, that shreds productive citizens’ lives and families for no good reason, and focus law enforcement resources instead on actual crime,” the Vista, California-based company, which operates as a family business, said in a statement.

Dr. Bronner’s has long supported ending prohibition laws on cannabis. In 2012, CEO David Bronner was arrested in Washington, D.C., after he locked himself in a cage full of hemp plants to protest laws banning the plant. 

The company’s latest move comes as part of a broader push to tout the $1.01 million it’s spending to assert its credibility as a for-profit ally of politically progressive causes.

Dr. Bronner’s said it plans to contribute $250,000 to the nonprofit Fairness Project to back campaigns to hike the minimum wage in Arizona, Colorado and Maine to $12 and in Washington to $13.50 in the next four years.

The company said it already gave another $100,000 to the Humane Society of the United States to support the animal rights group’s push for a ballot measure in Massachusetts that would end confinement of veal calves, egg-laying hens and pigs.

An array of Dr. Bronner's signature soap line.
An array of Dr. Bronner's signature soap line.

The firm announced the donations on Monday, when it resigned from the Organic Trade Association, an industry group, over its support for a bill that undermines efforts to label products containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. 

About 88 percent of Americans support mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs, according to a survey released in July by the University of Pennsylvania. Just 39 percent of those polled agreed that “GMO crops are safe to eat,” while 27 percent disagreed with the statement and 30 percent abstained. GMOs remain a lightning rod issue in the U.S., despite study after study debunking the fearmongering and myths surrounding them.  

For Dr. Bronner’s, the problem seems to be less about crops and more about the chemical companies, like Monsanto, that promote their use. 

As Mother Jones reported in a 2013 profile of Bronner: 

His beef with GMOs has less to do with ambiguous fears about “frankenfoods” than with the well-documented effects of the widespread deployment of herbicide- and pest-resistant genetically modified crops. While those breakthroughs were meant to cut down on the need for chemical inputs, studies have found that they’ve instead bred new superbugs and superweeds that, in turn, must be suppressed with ever more and stronger pesticides and herbicides.

In 2013, Adam Eidinger, who now serves as Dr. Bronner’s head of activism, was arrested for posing as a Monsanto lobbyist and dumping $1,600 in dollar bills in a Senate building. That same year, Dr. Bronner’s funded a 6,000-mile cross-country tour to raise awareness about the use of fish genes in genetically modified produce.

“I have no in-principle objection to genetic engineering or synthetic biology,” CEO David Bronner told Mother Jones. “Far from freeing us from the chemical treadmill, GMOs are doubling down on it.”

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