Political and company lobbying influences happen with hashish

In a press release sent this morning, a new coalition announced its launch to “end the prohibition, criminalization and overregulation of cannabis in the United States.” The Cannabis Freedom Alliance (CFA) says its core values ​​include federal shutdown, criminal justice reform, “re-entry and successful second chances,” promoting free market entrepreneurship, and reasonable tax rates.

Who is behind the CFA?

The organizations that founded the CFA are Americans for Prosperity (AFP), Mission Green / The Weldon Project, the Reason Foundation, and the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (GACC). Take a look at this list and see if you recognize the names. AFP is a well-known conservative and libertarian political lobby group founded and funded by the Koch brothers. Another libertarian think tank and advocate for the privatization of prisons, the Reason Foundation also listed the Koch brothers as some of their largest donors in its 2012 disclosures.

The family business Koch, Koch Industries, makes hundreds of billions of dollars annually in the oil and gas industry and has had massive political influence for decades. They regularly donate hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican campaigns. In the past, they have played an important role in tackling climate change legislation. They are widely known as conservative advocates of lower corporate taxes, fewer social services, and deregulation.

Interestingly, prominent criminal law reform attorney Weldon Angelos and rapper Snoop Dogg appear to have partnered with Koch-backed group CFA after a Zoom meeting where Charles Koch told them he thinks all drugs should be legalized so Politico. “We can’t cut with a scissor blade. We need Republicans to survive [a legalization bill]”Angelos told Politico. The connection between cannabis legalization and the traditional values ​​of Republicans and libertarians is obvious: their free market, personal freedoms, and little government ideology fit well with the legalization movement.

Big Oil, Alcohol and Tobacco, oh my god!

The Coalition on Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation (CPEAR) was formed in March 2021. Two of the founding members are Altria, the company that makes Marlboro cigarettes, and Molson Coors, a multinational alcohol company. The CPEAR website says they want to work on responsible federal reform. “We represent a large group of stakeholders – from public safety to social justice – who are focused on creating a responsible and equitable federal legal framework for cannabis in the United States.”

CPEAR’s founding members also include: The Brink’s, a private security firm, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, and the Convenience Distribution Association. In other words, the group is made up of large and powerful corporate interest groups representing the alcohol, tobacco, insurance, and security industries.

Both NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) have spoken out against CPEAR. Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML, says it is a matter of corporate interests working to change laws so their companies can benefit from legalization. “We have seen how much corporate money and influence has corrupted and corroded many other industries,” says Altieri. “We can’t let the legal marijuana industry become its next payday.”

The DPA also issued a statement against CPEAR. Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Data Protection Agency, says she urges elected officials to exercise caution in seeking advice from these corporate powers. “We have long been concerned about the entry of large commercial interests into the legal marijuana market,” says Frederique. “Big Alcohol and Tobacco has a miserable track record of using predatory tactics to sell their products and build their brands. Often times, they target low-income color communities and fight public health regulations that would protect people.”

While their motives and desired outcomes remain unclear, it is evident that we are entering a new age in the cannabis legalization movement that powerful companies outside of the cannabis space are looking to enter. Whether oil and gas, insurance, security, tobacco or alcohol, these groups use their power and money to influence cannabis policy reform.

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