Are Cannabis Laws Controlled by Corporations?

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Can you imagine what the headlines would be if cannabis was killing 41+ people every day in the US? Or how severe the consequences would be for possession or distribution of cannabis if this were the case?

Prescription opioid overdose deaths average 41 per day in the US. That's more than 15,000 deaths each year. These numbers are also increasing year over year. As many of us already know, people who become addicted to pain pills sometimes switch over to heroin as it is a more affordable option to feed their addiction. Deaths by heroin added another 35+ deaths per day in the US in 2015. So who are the people making these deadly drugs and why isn’t the government after these individuals the same way they are after cannabis growers, who are  responsible for 0 annual deaths? Below are five companies who produce the majority of these prescription opioid pills:

Purdue Pharma: averages $700M in annual revenue

Endo Health Solutions: valued at  $9.8B

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon: latest records indicate $2.8 B in sales in 2010.

Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals: did $70.1B in revenue in 2015.

Allergan: Ended annual sales in 2015 with  $15.07B      

After looking at the numbers above, it’s clear that there are a relatively small group of individuals making a lot of money by selling addictive pain pills to people. I think It’s also pretty safe to say that these five companies would consider cannabis to be a competitor since cannabis also alleviates pain. However unlike pharmaceutical painkillers, cannabis is natural, not known to cause addiction, nor is it known to kill people.

So why would the government be against cannabis and not pharmaceutical drugs? Could it be that these companies are in bed financially with our government? That’s the obvious thought. In fact, according to the AP and Center for Public Integrity, the pharmaceutical industry and its allies spent more than $880 million nationwide on lobbying and campaign contributions from 2006 through 2015.  

Below are a few other industries who are fighting cannabis legalization as well:

Law enforcement & private prisons: Drug war money has become a notable source of funding for law enforcement interests. Huge government grants and asset-seizure windfalls benefit police departments, while the constant supply of prisoners keeps the prison business booming, according to The Intercept.

The alcohol industry: A recent article from  Forbes reported the beer industry alone could lose as much as $2 billion dollars from legalized cannabis.

Commodity companies: For thousands of years, hemp has been used to make all kinds of things like clothing, paper foods and even biodegradable plastic. Meaning a number of commodity companies benefited greatly when hemp was made illegal in 1937 by the “Marijuana Tax Act”. Notably, one year after the tax act, The DuPont Company patented the processes for manufacturing plastics from coal and oil as well as a new process for creating paper from wood pulp. Today, the Dupont family is one of the richest families in America and according to Opensecrets.org, last year alone the family racked up $5,504,342 in government lobbying expenditures, So yes, companies like the DuPont Company and many others benefit greatly by hemp remaining illegal.

Next time you wonder why it’s illegal to smoke a joint in most of the country, consider who controls the cash and who has something to lose by cannabis being legal. The money trail usually  leads to the truth…. this article is all public knowledge and nothing really new, but I think it’s important to keep this discussion alive so that we can start holding our government more accountable.