Big Pharma & Big Tobacco Flex their Muscle
December 11th, 2014
Policy, Top News
The fight against legalized marijuana is often framed as a fight to keep communities safer and healthier for the sake of the children, but the two largest groups funding such efforts are Big Pharma and Big Tobacco and they’re more concerned about the impact marijuana could have on their bottom line. These dynamics have been highlighted in Florida and Washington D.C. over the past several months.
In Florida, the Drug Free Florida group spent millions of dollars on ads to convince residents that medical marijuana was harmful, despite the growing body of evidence that suggests otherwise. Law enforcement backed these initiatives since they derive a significant portion of their revenue from marijuana seizures. Lobbyists served as the glue between these parties that spun up the sizable campaigns.
In Washington D.C., there was no real effort to convince voters that adult-use marijuana would devastate society. These lobbyists instead likely realized that they could simply pressure their existing constituents in Congress to pass regulations after-the-fact that would limit the funding to implement such measures and effectively squash them – even if they received broad support from voters.
Researchers at the Pew Research Center have confirmed that the majority of voters support the legalization of marijuana, but the financial interests that run the country remain vehemently opposed. Big Pharma relies on pain killer sales to drive blockbuster revenue, which would suffer from medical legalization, and Big Tobacco would likely see some of its sales cannibalized with adult-use legalization.
The irony is that Big Pharma pushes prescriptions that are far more addictive than marijuana and Big Tobacco sells products that represent the single largest source of preventable morbidity and mortality in the U.S. By arguing marijuana could be devastating to the youth, these companies are trying to protect their profits much more than they are trying to protect society against harm.
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