Is it dangerous for large liquor and large tobacco to assist legalize marijuana?

Marijuana advocates have done their best to keep the industry as pure and pristine as possible from corporate criminals. But whether you like it or not, Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco have infiltrated the scene and are working with federal lawmakers to shape policies aimed at legalizing marijuana nationwide.

Seriously, several strong minds in the alcohol and tobacco trade recently formed a federal lobby group to press the meat of pot-friendly politicians on Capitol Hill and pass marijuana laws in their favor. In other words, marijuana has been hijacked.

This new development does not fit well with the national cannabis advocacy group NORML. The organization argues that in the past few decades it has changed the minds of the American people regarding marijuana. Her goal for national cannabis reform has always been to give people the freedom to “responsibly possess and use marijuana without being criminalized or stigmatized”. NORML has no interest in marketing the cannabis plant. They claim lobby groups, like the recently formed ones, will put corporate interests before American pot consumers.

“While these industries have grossed billions of dollars over the past few decades, NORML has fought for your rights to legally possess and use cannabis.” wrote NORML managing director Erik Altieri. “Now that we’ve made so much progress, these corporate interests are trying to shape the landscape so that it works best for them, not you.”

But how does the average cannabis user feel about this? Is the thought that marijuana is mostly controlled by Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco a problem or isn’t it a big deal as long as weed is legal?

NORML recently carried out a survey to get to the bottom of these questions. It turns out that most cannabis users aren’t too excited that these alcohol and tobacco companies are taking over the cannabis industry. Around 47 percent of respondents said they are “very concerned” and want NORML to step in and try to stop them. Meanwhile, 31% said that it is only about “when companies advocate guidelines that conflict with consumer issues”.

Twelve percent do not believe that NORML should waste resources to intervene. These people, perhaps naively, believe that “the market will solve these problems by itself”. Another 10% of respondents believe that cannabis “should focus on policies that affect individuals, not businesses.”

Photo by Natasha Kapur via Unsplash

But is there anything cannabis advocates can do to stop Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco from taking up the marijuana money train? Probably not. The industry doesn’t have enough clout to shake things up in DC, and it in no way has the resources available to compete with the alcohol and tobacco trade.

RELATED: Marijuana Reform Could Be Lost To Scorched Earth Senate This Year

Marijuana lobby groups lost just $ 4 million to political advocacy last year, while the alcohol and tobacco groups contributed $ 60 million. The fact that these two businesses have joined forces to make sure marijuana policies are crafted for the good of their businesses is like a group of professional MMA fighters showing up in a schoolyard and throwing the crap out of a few eighth graders. It’s not really going to be a big fight.

Even so, Big Marijuana is still trying to influence Congress. Last month, a marijuana lobby group called the US Cannabis Council (USCC) was gathered to drive federal cannabis reform. Unlike the group overseen by Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco, the USCC is focused on promoting federal marijuana legalization and social justice. “USCC is a unified voice advocating the expropriation and legalization of cannabis,” said Steven Hawkins, USCC interim CEO, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project and founding member of USCC. said in a statement. “Legalization at both state and federal levels must include provisions that ensure social justice and repair the damage caused to communities affected by the cannabis ban.”

RELATED: Will Tobacco Companies Get Into Legal Marijuana?

Which of these lobby groups will the US Senate hear when it comes to passing major cannabis reform this year? There will likely be a lot of support for any lobby group that advocates for social justice. Returning to communities ravaged by the drug war is a hot topic right now among cannabis advocates. It is actually something that the US House addressed with the passage of the MORE Act last year.

While mere reforms may take an early lead, it may not be long before the deep pockets of Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco suddenly start to sway political opinion. This is America and money talks, after all. Especially in Congress.

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