With the battle against cannabis legalization all but lost, marijuana prohibitionists are setting their sights on a new enemy: Big Marijuana. A force they believe will be every bit as evil as Big Tobacco.
Groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) have set out to demonize the new industry that is emerging around state-legal cannabis. They want you to know that Big Marijuana is about to unravel the fabric of our society.
SAM ringleader, Kevin Sabet, is the mastermind behind Big Prohibition. Sabet believes that Big Marijuana is plotting to get a massive segment of the population hooked on their highly addictive products.
Allegedly, cannabis companies will do this by suppressing research that contradicts their vision of a world where cannabis heals the sick and helps people live happier healthier lives.
Sabet hates the idea that cannabis is becoming legal. He abhors the idea that cannabis is becoming normalized. And he goes absolutely ballistic at the thought that someone is making money from cannabis.
Does Sabet really think that black market drug dealers are non-profit entities? As long as there are consumers for cannabis, someone will make money selling it. The seller might as well be one that creates jobs, pays taxes, and conforms to state regulations.
The problem with Sabet’s world-view is that cannabis is nearly the exact opposite of tobacco.
- Unlike tobacco, cannabis is non-toxic.
- Unlike tobacco, cannabis is not addictive. Cannabis ranks below coffee on the dependency scale. Meanwhile, nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs around.
- Contrary to Sabet’s claims, Big Marijuana is not suppressing research. Actually, it’s the prohibitionists who are blocking meaningful research into cannabis. If Sabet supports cannabis research, then he should also support removing cannabis’s schedule 1 classification, as that classification prevents most serious cannabis research.
- Unlike tobacco companies in the past century, cannabis companies are operating in a highly regulated environment. These regulations exist precisely because of the abuses of Big Tobacco. This is why there are restrictions on how cannabis can be advertised and packaged. This is why there are limits on manufacturing and the ingredients in cannabis products. Cannabis regulation is an evolving process that is being actively shaped by policymakers with a goal towards improving public outcomes. That’s a major change from the era of prohibition.
There’s no denying that Big Tobacco did some terrible things to our society. We’ve learned lessons from that past, and legal cannabis states are moving forward in a responsible manner by crafting policy that minimizes public harm and produces outcomes far better than prohibition ever did.