In the 21st century, we still have an antiquated era of ideologies, misinformation, and propaganda against cannabis that shape and influence large companies and organizations, despite a growing number of states who have adopted some form of legislation to legalize cannabis.
Between the multibillion-dollar government-controlled agencies like the DEA, Prison Unions, drug companies, people in the private-sector and the FDA, among others, gain from keeping cannabis illegal, there lies a broad range of cannabis advocates and supporters -- people who do, in fact, have the necessary power to make cannabis legal at all levels of government.
The People have the power through voting with their dollars and being vigilant as possible in the efforts to end prohibition in the U.S. by not supporting companies and organizations that don't support cannabis. When we know which companies and organizations are against cannabis, only then can we make an informed decision.
This Anti-Cannabis Blacklist was put together in an effort so that we can be alerted to who is waging war against cannabis and keeping it illegal.
If you know of other companies or organizations you'd like us to add to this list, let us know in the comments below.
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The AAA of Connecticut has lashed out against legal cannabis, claiming that the plant impairs drivers on public roads. Despite a handful of studies debunking the effects of cannabis on driving, the AAA is still persistent about its negative views surrounding the herb.
If legalized, marijuana would compete with alcoholic beverages for consumers. Since 2009, the beer, wine and liquor industry has spent at least $20 million each year on lobbying efforts, most of which have been focused on alcohol taxes and regulations. And during the 2016 election cycle, the industry gave $23 million to federal candidates, parties and committees. Since 1990, the total spending on lobbying efforts to politicians, both Democrats and Republican, from big booze has been $179 million.
Discount Tire, a leading tire and wheel retailer with over 900 locations across the US, is first on the list. In 2016, the Michigan-based business splurged $1 million on an anti-marijuana campaign under Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy in Opposition to Prop. 205. At the time, the main objective of the group was to curtail the momentum of pro-cannabis organizations campaigning for the full (recreational) legalization of the plant.
In 2016, DriveTime’s pledge to keep cannabis illegal in Arizona was issued at a very crucial time, as most of the donations to the opposing group were given in the final stretch of the battle. The $250,000 package was provided by Ernie Garcia, the owner of the business. DriveTime specializes in credit solutions for automotive purchases. In 2014, the business was fined $8 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) due to aggressive debt collection practices and inaccurate credit reporting to governing agencies.
Insys Therapeutics has opposed the legalization of cannabis from day one. The pharmaceutical brand is widely known for manufacturing and selling fentanyl (under Subsys), a synthetic opioid painkiller used by patients participating in chemotherapy treatments.
Interestingly, Insys was responsible for releasing an FDA-approved synthetic cannabinoid (dronabinol, under Syndros). The oral spray, which was classified as a Schedule II substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) earlier this year, is designed to stimulate the appetite of patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy.
Insys contributed to the efforts of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, and according to reports, the drug maker donated $500,000 to the campaign.
Retired police officer Howard Wooldridge, now an anti-drug war lobbyist, told the anti-corruption blog Republic Report in 2012 that one of the biggest opponents to marijuana legalization is the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), given that marijuana can replace drugs from “Advil, ibuprofen all the way to Vicodin, pills for nausea – I mean expensive store-bought pills.”
PhRMA is certainly an organization to be reckoned with: In 2014 alone, PhRMA spent about $16.6 million on lobbying, ranking it 11th in spending among all lobbying clients that year. And the drug manufacturing industry as a whole poured $14.7 million into the 2014 election cycle.
In Florida, one of the largest donations against cannabis came from Publix, a popular grocery chain brand in the state. Official records confirmed that $800,000 in contributions to Drug-Free Florida originated from the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust. Some speculate that the company fought against cannabis legalization in order to protect its pharmaceutical establishments (Publix is one of the largest pharmacies in the area, according to Miami New Times, and therefore profits from the sale of prescription drugs that could be replaced by cannabis).
Contributing $1 million to anti-cannabis legalization is Mel Sembler, chairman emeritus of the Sembler Company, a commercial real estate firm. A major Republican fundraiser, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Italy and to Australia. Sembler and his wife, Betty, are co-founders of the Drug Free America Foundation, a group that supports drug-testing students, opposes taking a harm-reduction approach to drug addiction, and claims that “crude” marijuana is not medicine.
U-Haul, with its headquarters based in Phoenix, Arizona, joined several companies in the fight against Prop. 205. The business donated $25,000 to the opposing group with unclear motives for the offering. Compared to other donors, U-Haul has been very silent about its pledge. From a business perspective, cannabis prohibition is actually working against the brand, since illegal smugglers have been known to use the company’s trucks to transport large batches of the herb for unregulated consumption.
One of the most prolific anti-cannabis company to date is the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The upbeat hotel is owned by billionaire tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who is also the owner of the Palazzo and CEO of the Sands Corporation. His net worth (projected by Forbes in 2017) is around $31 billion, giving him some serious funding power in the fight to keep cannabis illegal. Adelson’s contributions went to anti-marijuana campaigns in Arizona ($500,000), Massachusetts ($1 million) and Nevada ($2 million).
The Sands Corporation CEO also scooped up the Las Vegas Review-Journal for $140 million in 2015. Many believe he used the publication as a medium to fuel his anti-marijuana interests.
The second Las Vegas establishment to make it on the list is Wynn Resorts. Steve Wynn, owner, and CEO of the business donated $100,000 to a massive anti-cannabis campaign in Massachusetts backed by Governor Charlie Baker. This contribution was issued just one day before Wynn received the green light to move forward with a development project in Everett. Some groups speculate that his donation was used to “nudge” the application to the state Gaming Commission in the right direction.
This 2,700 member physician society formed in the 1950s works to “promote the appropriate role of the physician in the care of patients with addiction,” according to its website. In July 2012, the group published a paper arguing that smoked marijuana “is not, and cannot be, a medicine.”
According to a September report published by The Intercept, the Beer Distributors PAC made a $25,000 contribution to the anti-legalization campaign in Massachusetts. The article references SEC filings made by the makers of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Sam Adams beer.
Since 2013, Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniel’s, has tossed legal marijuana in among “risk factors” — uncertainties and events that could affect the business and financial results — listed in its annual report.
Carla Lowe's political action committee in California was started to fight marijuana legalization efforts in California during the 2010 election. “CALM takes the position that federal laws against the use, cultivation, and transportation should be maintained and enforced and should not be relaxed or softened,” according to the organization's website.
Founded in 1992, CADCA has created programs and campaigns to help reduce tobacco, alcohol and drug use in communities across the U.S. and in other countries, including by returning veterans. “As a national organization that builds coalitions to prevent youth alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, CADCA has long believed that marijuana legalization is a bad idea that will increase youth drug use."
This 501(c)3 organization works with the United Nations as a non-governmental organization to support “international policies and laws that will reduce illegal drug use and drug addiction.”
They add that "Smoking [cannabis] is an ineffective and illogical way to deliver medicine – dosage cannot be regulated, and tar and other harmful compounds are delivered directly to the lungs. Other delivery methods aren't safer either; vaporizing does not filter cancer-causing tar or other chemicals, and eating delivers the same damaging compounds as well as the insecticides and fungi found in unmonitored crops." as stated on their website.
From Chief of Staff and Senior Legal Fellow, Charles Stimson states on the website that "Marijuana is an addictive, gateway drug. It significantly impairs bodily and mental functions, and its use is related to increased violence. These are facts." He then adds, "...clinical studies reveal that long-term, moderate consumption of the drug [marijuana] impairs short-term memory, slows reaction time, increases the risk of heart attack, and can result in birth defects, strokes, and damage to the respiratory system and brain."
"No state will likely be allowed to legalize marijuana on its own due to negative cross-state spillover effects. Yet even if a state could do so, legalizing marijuana would serve little purpose other than to worsen the drug problem."
“Bursting the bubble of marijuana hype” is the slogan of the organization that works to create messaging to help parents teach their children to stay away from marijuana. The group also actively campaigns against medical and recreational legalization efforts in the states where ballot measures come to vote.
The revenue from waging the War on Drugs has become a significant source of financial support for local law enforcement. Federal and state funding of the drug war – as well as the property that officers seize from Civil Asset Forfeiture as a part of drug raids – have become significant supplements to the budgets of local law enforcement.
While unions exert more influence at the local level, they have a presence in Washington as well. Every year since 2008, the National Fraternal Order of Police has spent at least $220,000 as a lobbying client. The National Association of Police Organizations has spent at least $160,000 a year. The International Union of Police Associations has laid out $80,000 every year. And the International Association of Chiefs of Police has spent $80,000 each year since 2009.
Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping nonviolent drug offenders behind bars. On the federal level, many prison guards are represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the most politically active labor unions. During the 2014 election cycle, AFSCME gave more than $11 million to federal candidates, parties and committees. The union also spent $2.4 million to lobby in 2014.
If you know of other companies or organizations you'd like us to add to this list, let us know in the comments below.
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