Big Cannabis: will legal weed grow to be America's next corporate titan?
The people who made a hippie dream come true do not look the part.
Instead of tie-dye T-shirts, the campaigners who masterminded the legalisation of recreational marijuana in Colorado wore dark suits and ties to celebrate the world's first legal retail pot sales. Instead of talking about the counter-culture, they spoke approvingly of regulations, taxes and corporate responsibility. They looked sober, successful – mainstream.Yes, because this isn't Hollywood. In the real world, you're not taken seriously if you look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards, no matter your cause.
This, however, is a dog whistle for those who know what's best for, err, everyone else.
What was a fringe movement four decades ago had evolved into a slick, well-funded network based in Washington DC, [Kevin Sabet of the group Smart Approaches to Marijuana] noted. “It was, ‘We need to cut our ponytails, take off our tie-dye shirts, put on our Macy's suits, go to Congress and start lobbying state legislators.’”Hey, if you want to be in the game, you play by the rules laid down by idiot politicians. As we here know very well in the cases of plain packs and e-cigs, you may as well not exist if you're mere Joe Public, scruffy or not - it's a lesson prohibitionists learned a long time ago and have been exploiting since the 1970s.
The National Society for Nonsmokers had been around - being routinely ignored - for fifty years before ASH was formed with government money and government-paid staff to campaign for bans and restrictions on tobacco. It was only then - when they wore suits and organised their lobbying - that politicians started to listen. Nowadays, ASH belong to a multi-national conglomerate tobacco control industry whose only purpose is lobbying ... and they all wear suits.
Of course, no prohibitionist can get his diploma without invoking big bag tobacco.
Many Americans, Sabet said, were unaware that pot could cause long-lasting health damage, especially to the young, and that the American Medical Association opposes legalisation. “It's Big Tobacco redux” said Sabet, who also directs the University of Florida's drug policy institute.Just sayin', but presumably then, Sabet also wears a suit?
The fact that 'hippies' are now doing exactly the same as tobacco companies shows that it's quite natural, and the way the world was designed to be. Far from being a bad thing, it only goes to show that tobacco companies have been doing something that every business since the big bang has always done; stated their case.
When you are faced with out-of-control governments which would ban just about anything in a heartbeat if not opposed, you get organised, lobby and - yes - wear a smart suit to do so.
Not one mention in the Guardian piece, though, of the other greedy organisation which will profit greatly from cannabis industrialisation, no matter whether the drug is harmful, benign, or makes hipsters perform star jumps and win half-pipe Olympic gold medals by the bucketful. Can you guess?
It is, nonetheless, interesting to see these battle lines being drawn within less than a week of Colorado's legalisation. And for a glimpse of how the argument is going to pan out in the future, how about this from the Independent today?
The opening up of a legal trade in non-medical marijuana is not without its critics. Uruguay's decision to remove all legal restrictions on use was condemned by the International Narcotics Control Board, the body charged with monitoring international treaties on narcotics. "Cannabis is not only addictive but may also affect some fundamental brain functions, IQ potential and academic and job performance, and impair driving skills," it said in a statement. "Smoking cannabis is more carcinogenic than smoking tobacco."Really? Well, fancy that!