Industries or Lobbies that are against marijuana

Many Americans favor the legalization of marijuana nationwide but that probably might not happen in my lifetime due to the amount of opposition forces against cannabis. There are also many Americans that do not agree with throwing fellow Americans in jail over a dime bag of weed. Many people feel that the legalization of cannabis has more to do with money than it does with public health and safety. The reason why America is not the leader in medical marijuana research is because we as a nation still say that cannabis has no medical value whatsoever. This article will discuss the industries that are lobbying against marijuana. Some of the reasons why are kind of obvious and many of you have suspected all along but anyways, here are some facts.

The following industries of lobbies are against making cannabis legal on a federal level (starting with the largest):

  • Police Unions
  • Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Private Prisons and Prison Guard Unions
  • Beer and Alcohol Industry
  • Casino Industry

How did marijuana become illegal in the first place and why?

I need to make a side note of why marijuana was made illegal in the first place in the U.S. Weed was demonized and made illegal in 1937 through the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. There were two fellas by the name of Harry Anslinger and William Hearst. Anslinger was America’s first drug czar as he was the Commissioner of the new Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

William Hearst was a business mogul who built our country’s largest media company at that time. Anslinger and Hearst were buddies. William Hearst use his media machine to demonize marijuana. Newspapers were the media at that time so he was also a paper tycoon. These two guys were instrumental in getting marijuana illegal in the first place. William Hearst benefited from this because hemp was a competitor to his paper industry and hemp production plummeted after the marijuana Tax Act of 1937. It is also interesting to note that the American Medical Association (AMA) opposed the passing of this piece of legislation.

How many Americans are arrested per year for cannabis?

The United States spends over $50 billion dollars a year on the War on Drugs. There were over 650,000 Americans arrested for cannabis-related crimes in 2016. We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world with over 2 million Americans incarcerated in prisons and jails. Some of these facts will become more relevant as you read on.

What is the biggest lobby against legalizing marijuana?

Let’s start with the biggest lobby against marijuana first and that would be police unions. You would think that the police would not want to be bothered with marijuana-related offenses but you would be wrong. It does make sense though after you get some facts. Many police agencies get big federal drug war grants for getting rid of marijuana and it is part of their budgeting process.  There was a case during Proposition 19 in California where a police union lobbyist was instrumental in defeating this legislation. As a result, many of his clients, which were police departments, collected tens of millions of dollars in federal grants to eradicate marijuana. They have also pushed for greater penalties cannabis-related crimes across the nation.

What is the second biggest lobby against marijuana?

Pharmaceutical Industry

Now we move on to the second biggest lobby against cannabis and this would be the pharmaceutical industry, or Big Pharma. Marijuana has the potential to replace many pharmaceutical pills from Ativans to Vicodins. The alternative of cannabis would also be much cheaper, less dangerous, and less risk of addiction. I find this pretty ironic because pharmacies were initially opposed to making marijuana illegal in 1937 due to the taxes imposed on them. There was a case where the company responsible for making a sublingual spray of fentanyl called Insys contributed $500,000 to keep marijuana illegal in Arizona. This is the same fentanyl that is responsible for killing many Americans annually due to opiate overdose. The stakes are pretty high for the pharmaceutical industry if cannabis is made legal nationwide.

How do prisons benefit from keeping cannabis illegal?

Private Prisons and Prison Guard Unions

Our next category has to do with imprisoning people for cannabis-related crimes. This includes private prison corporations and prison guard unions. The War on Drugs has made millions of dollars for private prisons from getting people incarcerated for marijuana. These companies benefit from the free labor that incarcerated inmates can provide. One of the largest for-profit prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America, actually disclosed in one of their regulatory filings that the continuance of the drug war in America is instrumental in their business strategy. There is also a case in 2008 where the California Correctional Peace Officers Association Spent $1 million lobbying to defeat legislation that would have reduced sentences for non-violent drug offenders.

Is marijuana a competitor to the beer and alcohol industry?

Beer and Alcohol Industry

The next two industries have to do with leisure. Another lobby against marijuana represent the alcohol in beer companies. This is due to the fear of competition for Americans spending their money on leisure. Americans that are stoned probably might not buying as much alcohol or beer. There was a case where the California Beer & Beverage Distributors donated money to defeat  Proposition 19 which would have legalized cannabis and taxed it.

Why do casinos hate weed?

Casino Industry

Our last industry also has to do with leisure and that would be the casino industry. There is a man by the name of Sheldon Adelson who is the founder and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. He is one of the world’s richest men according to Forbes and has contributed a combined total of $5 million to keep marijuana illegal in Nevada, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Florida. Casinos absolutely do not want their patrons smoking weed in their casinos. In fact the Nevada Gaming Commission informed people with gambling licenses that they would not be able to get a permit for a cannabis dispensary or for marijuana cultivation. I guess pot and slots do not mix!

Now you are aware of the biggest opponents  for legalizing cannabis in this country. It is evident that there will be some winners and losers if marijuana becomes legal on a federal level. Keeping weed illegal in this country benefits the industries described above.

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