I was interested in this brief article in Politico, describing a brand new coalition of cannabis industry ‘titans’ and experts who want to assist state and Federal legislators and policymakers in their efforts to fully legalize cannabis. Instantly I thought of ALEC, the conservative group where lobbyists and politicians meet to design model legislation that states could adopt, wholly or in part. All those models, by the way, favor conservative interests. ALEC was very successful at the state level, able to heavily influence policy and promote conservative causes. This would be a comparable effort on behalf of the cannabis industry, except it would focus on national as well as state legislatures.
Eventually ALEC drew widespread criticism for fostering cozy relationships between paid lobbyists and elected officials. A number of its members took a few steps back. Again, this new Cannabis Coalition is also top-heavy with business interests. Founding members include:
- Altria, the giant corporate entity behind Marlboro cigarettes, Skoal smokeless tobacco, and makers of cigars and pipe tobacco. They took a prominent role in the recent drive for legalization in Virginia. They’re already involved in the cannabis industry in Canada.
- Constellation, another large corporation, makers of Corona and Modelo beers.
- Molson Coors (more beer)
- The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, and
- Brink’s Company
“I guess Brinks is there to explain how they’re going to transport all that cash,” commented one online funnyman.
It strikes me as a belated effort to organize an industry already growing at breakneck pace. $20 billion this year, a 50% increase over the year before.
Now they decide to address safety, product testing and quality, youth prevention, minority ownership, etc. ? Isn’t that like the city fathers in 19th Century Tombstone deciding that maybe now would be a good time to hire a couple more deputies? Just in case.
Anyway, the Executive Director of the Coalition is aware that since questions will come up and the typical politician knows very little about the issue, they’ll need White Papers to help them in interviews. Talking points, especially should the media become critical.
As I’ve said before, legalization on a Federal level is probably only a matter of time. We involved with treatment will continue to treat cannabis patients post- legalization, as we have been for many decades. Our clients have never shied away from drug use, legal or not.
Unfortunately, I don’t see this Coalition as the way to provide a balanced, informed perspective to a skeptical public. That’s not their primary purpose. They’ll be strong advocates for big business, and the corporations and other interests involved want recreational cannabis — or ‘adult use’, their preferred term — legalized.
That’s why the Coalition exists.