The Special Interests Keeping Marijuana Criminalized

April 29, 2018

In this era of political polarization, when Americans seem to agree on absolutely nothing, let me reassure you. We overwhelmingly agree that cannabis should be legal. 

1 in 5 Americans have (state) legal access, 1 in 2 have experimented with it, and more than 1 in 10 smoke regularly. Southern California yuppies are publicly winning prizes for growing the same plant that landed Georgia teenagers in prison. 

Half of states allow at least limited use, and a few attract elite cannabis tourism. Federally, the drug remains fiercely criminalized, despite irrefutable evidence of its medical value. 

So what’s the hold-up? 

Being in the anti-marijuana business is astonishingly lucrative for bureaucrats and campaign donors. Here are just a few of the heavy hitters addicted to federal prohibition: 

Big Booze: 

National Beer Wholesalers Association 

Anheuser-Busch InBev 

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America 

The makers and distributors of America’s top-selling beers, wines, and liquors are already facing stiff competition from newly deregulated microbrewers and craft distilleries. 

Cannabis prohibition shuts out a zero-calorie competitor with far fewer short- and long-term health risks. The industry donated (read: invested) $19 million to re-election campaigns in 2016, and another $4 million to soft money groups like “Public Safety First” which specifically oppose cannabis legalization efforts. The efforts here are well documented. 

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