State Rep. Tina Pickett, whose position in Harrisburg gives her enormous say-so over what happens to proposed insurance laws, has more cash in her political campaign account than any of her 201 colleagues in the House — thanks in large part to the insurance industry.

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A review by The Morning Call of hundreds of campaign finance reports showed Pickett’s $268,546.49 cash balance in late May was inflated by a years-long influx of insurance industry cash that began when Pickett became chairwoman of the House Insurance Committee in 2013.

“The representative’s numbers are staggering,” said Douglas Heller, an insurance industry expert with the Consumer Federation of America, an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that carries out research and advocacy.

The newspaper’s review showed the balance in Pickett’s campaign account on May 18, the end date of the state reporting period just before the primary election, was tops among all House incumbents. In the subsequent period — the most recent for which records are publicly available — Pickett’s total increased slightly but still led all 202 House members.

At least $170,350 in contributions — or more than 54% of the overall total — made to Pickett’s campaign between her Sept. 25, 2013 assumption of the Insurance Committee chair and the May reporting date came from insurance industry political action committees or people tied to the industry.

Experts says such big contributions are made to curry favor.

One insurance group that gave more than $12,000 has even called Pickett the “lead architect and champion” for the industry.

“There is no coincidence that the chairperson suddenly is lavished with incredible amounts of campaign cash. Because, with this position, she has the power to move forward consumer protections, or stop them, and move forward industry interests or stop them, and that is a

If you’re a growth investor, the U.S. cannabis industry is one area you’ll want some exposure to. The U.S. pot market is going to grow at a rate of 18% per year (on average) and reach a value of $34.5 billion by 2025, according to cannabis research company BDSA. That’s more than five times the Canadian market’s projected value, which by 2025 will be worth approximately $6.1 billion. International sales are only set to climb to $6.5 billion five years from now.

Two companies that could stand to benefit from massive U.S. market growth are Trulieve Cannabis (OTC:TCNNF) and Harvest Health & Recreation (OTC:HRVSF). Trulieve recently announced its expansion into a fifth U.S. state with the acquisition of two Pennsylvania-based companies, while Harvest owns and operates over 30 retail locations across seven states. Let’s take a closer look at where these two cannabis companies are going (and where they’ve been) in order to determine which one is the better buy for cannabis investors today.

Can Trulieve’s domination continue outside of Florida?

Although its presence technically spans five states, Trulieve has achieved most of its success by focusing on its home market of Florida. On Sept. 22, the company announced the opening of its 61st dispensary and its 59th in Florida. With only two dispensary locations outside of the state, the company faces a big test with further expansion.

Marijuana leaves

Image source: Getty Images.

Trulieve’s recorded a profit in each of the past five quarters, and a big reason for that stability is its simplified business model. Many cannabis companies struggle to stay out of the red amid rapid growth. They often deploy strategies that include expansion into many different regions out of a desire to grow their presence and overall market share. 

Moving into more states will certainly boost Trulieve’s