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The Top 5 Industries Lobbying Against Cannabis Legalization Will Infuriate You

January 21, 2015

With mounting evidence supporting its health and wellness benefits and resounding evidence of the drug war's failure, it’s a wonder that anyone still opposes cannabis legalization. Despite the tremendous momentum in favor of legalization last year, it turns out prohibition still has deep support with even deeper pockets.

There are five major groups lobbying to keep cannabis illegal. Of those, three are within the law enforcement industry, and the other two have competing mind-altering products.

Police and Prisons (Unsurprisingly) Support Prohibition

Police unions, private prisons, and prison guard unions have all lobbied to maintain prohibition. In 2010, a police union lobbyist in California helped to defeat Prop 19, the ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent $1 million fighting against a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.” The Corrections Corporation of America, one of America’s largest for-profit prison companies, revealed that continuing the drug war is a central pillar of their business strategy.  

Our Vices Don't Want Competition

The other two industries fighting legalization should come as no surprise: both pharmaceutical companies and alcohol brands are spending money keep prohibition around, too. As we reported last year, certain anti-cannabis academics are funded by big pharma. Alcohol companies are also lobbying against legalization. In one example, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors made campaign contributions to a committee dedicated to preventing marijuana legalization and taxation.

To summarize, police unions, prison guard unions, for-profit prisons, and drug and alcohol companies spend huge sums of money each year to keep cannabis illegal, and why? Because it ensures job security and profits. We’re speechless, though sadly not surprised. 

  • Brandon Fox

    Is there a beer company that does support legalization? Or that is at least not directly involved in fighting it.

    • Chip Casey

      I don’t think that the craft brew industry is involved in fighting it. Thing is the people for whom marijuana supplanted their beer consumption where drinking to get drunk.. now they get high. People who like beer don’t drink to get drunk but enjoy the taste.Marijuana won’t supplant craft beer at all but would only enhance it.

      • woad2112

        Yeah…it’s definitely the Budweiser, Milwaukee’s Best, and Coors type of beer manufacturers, not the craft beers. Craft beer folks would probably drink while they smoke since they are not drinking to get drunk, while the beer swillers that drink the other beers may replace one for the other…they certainly aren’t drinking those beers for the flavor.

  • Beer and booze companies afraid of a little competition from marijuana ?? LOL Isn’t it true that in the 1920s the big American petroleum industry got a US Constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol to prevent competition…

    • Bee Mayes

      like they don’t have a big enough piece of the pie. makes me sick.

  • Randall McKay

    I could have guessed this list myself. Everyone knows it yet no one does anything about it. Like other laws. Just cause its law don’t make it right.

  • Simon Hardinsky

    It’s hard to make a profit on an herb that you can grow at home which effectively treats and even cures many diseases and illnesses that has a side effect of euphoria when you’re trying to sell your F.D.A. approved pills, potions and treatments that frequently require more visits to the pharmacy window for more of the same with more harmful side effects that will hardly scratch the surface of treating any illness or disease as well as cannabis.

    • Jason O’Brien


    • Master_KenM’s_House_of_Rabbit

      people can grow their own food. They don’t. I can’t grow tomatoes for what it costs in the store. Pot won’t be any different than big tobaco in 20 years.

      • woad2112

        You are probably correct in that. Most people don’t have the land to grow their own food or their own pot. Other than folks in Rural areas that have larger plots of land or live n farms, most people live in subdivisions that just don’t have the land needed or live in subdivisions with HOA’s that would prevent it even if they wanted to. The rest either just don’t have the time or the ability. I would love to have either, but being disabled, I just don;t have to mobility needed to garden. Growing pot indoors using hydroponics systems and other indoor growing systems is just too costly for someone trying to grow their own weed. So yeah, I don’t see the home growers angle becoming much of an obstacle to anyone profiting from legalized cannabis. The cannabis growers will become a huge multi-billion dollar industry and be no different than the tobacco growers today.

        • Master_KenM’s_House_of_Rabbit

          I’ve got friends eying the industry but I’m leery. Once it goes beyond a closet industry the regulation costs will push out the small time growers. Still, worse ways to make a living.

    • Kenric L. Ashe

      More importantly Cannabis *prevents* illnesses, especially those caused by Endocannabinoid Deficiency.

  • Kenric L. Ashe

    Cannabis isn’t a vice.

  • woad2112

    I am surprised police unions are against it. Most police I know are for it since they do realize that the current laws are pretty stupid and only drain resources from being able to go after more important things. Though i can see prison guard unions and the like being for prohibition since more prisoners means they need more prison guards. They probably like have pot offenders in jail since they are not going to be the violent types or real criminals and thus easier to manage.

    • Master_KenM’s_House_of_Rabbit

      Police love pot laws for two major reasons. Reason number one 50% of drug enforcement money is earmarked for marijuana. They think they’ll lose out on easy money if the laws go away. Reason number two is the old excuse that “a strong odor of marijuana” is the reason they tossed your car, stepped inside your yard, searched your purse, and any other excuse they need to investigate. Not many people are in jail just for pot, but a more interesting statistic is the number of people busted for drugs to be later brought up on other charges, especially weapons.