Three Industries that Will Prevent Marijuana from Ever Becoming Legal at the Federal Level

Cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana or ‘pot,’ is currently legal in 14 states in medical form. The American Medical Association has recognized marijuana’s therapeutic utility for conditions such as nausea, low appetite, depression, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, glaucoma, chronic pain, wasting syndrome as in AIDS and cancer patients, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, Dysthymic disorder, and others. It is for these reasons they’ve requested the United States Federal Government to remove it from its current Schedule 1 status. In case you didn’t know, Schedule 1 drugs are legally considered to “have no accepted medical use.” Other drugs in this category include LSD, Ecstasy, GHB (the date rape drug), and Heroin, as indicated by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency.

Although nearly 75% of the nation approves in decriminalizing cannabis, and another 48% is in favor of full legalization-with California championing this fight at a current 56% approval for legalization according to a recent SurveyUSA Poll, cannabis’ freedom will forever be curtailed by the Federal Government. Here’s why:

Police and law enforcement: America’s “War on Drugs” became a main focal point of the Reagan Administration. Cannabis had already reached illegality due to the efforts of Harry J. Anslinger-head of the DEA who received extensive lobbying support from companies threatened by the versatility of the plant-but it had not been attacked with the magnitude of Reagan’s Drug War until his time in office.

Almost overnight, millions of dollars were soaked into law enforcement to eradicate the drug Anslinger accused of “Making white women turn to Negroes,” and “Promoting pacifism and communist brainwashing” (Guither, 2010). Since then, the figure has reached $1 trillion. Continuously smearing cannabis’ image in the public eye has helped justify the government’s financial investment in its prohibition. Additionally, it has become a front for government financial kickbacks-a source of campaign revenue from multi-billion dollar companies and industries. As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs were created, and are maintained, by cannabis prohibition.

Pharmaceutical Companies: Years before Cannabis Prohibition, marijuana derivatives were found in many medicines ranging from painkillers and menstrual cramp relievers to a viable treatment for opioid dependence. Realizing the versatility of the plant, said companies initially manufactured hundreds of over-the-counter drugs, as well as prescription drugs, from cannabis derivatives. Capitalism, however, was on the rise as the great depression was ending. Cannabis had little potential for cash value-many people grew it in their front and back yards, using it both recreationally and for relief from a plethora of symptoms. As the pharmaceutical industry began to grow and take a stronghold in the New York Stock Exchange, a push for banning cannabis was brought to Anslinger’s attention. This backing from the pharmaceutical community, which was once regarded as an authority on the efficacy of medicine, helped him convince congress and the public to support illegalization. Although the case he presented was that it had no medical benefit, the underlying motive was to protect the pharmaceutical industry so that it could monopolize public medicine and prosper into what it is today.

Pharmaceutical companies will be badly damaged by legalization of cannabis, as more adults will be likely to try it out, realize its versatility, and begin to obtain it cheaply or without cost to treat various conditions. Under United States law, it is not possible to patent a plant, which is why the pharmaceutical industry has been lobbying to keep it illegal for the past seventy years. As the old saying goes, “If you can’t control it, make it illegal.” Much like the stock market, the pharmaceutical industry is operating on greed and fear to maintain their profits.

Try this: flip through one of your favorite magazines and make note of the ads for manufactured drugs. Reference the aforementioned list for what cannabis is effective at treating, and tear out each of those pages that contain a synthetic treatment for the same ailment. The stack of papers represents capitalism’s dark side: marketing money intended to shape public impression at the expense of a safer, cheaper alternative.

Oil Companies: If there’s one thing that works better than gas, its hemp oil. One of Henry Ford’s dreams was to create a car that ran exclusively on hemp oil because he saw it as a cleaner, more obtainable fuel that could be domestically produced. Due to government contracts and implications with oil producing nations, hemp oil never really took off. When cannabis was banned, its non-psychoactive cousin, hemp, was also banned, impairing this technology from reaching fruition. The political implications are apparent-if hemp were to be re-legalized, converted to combustible oil, and mass-produced, it would have the potential to damage or eliminate the market for fossil fuels.

Companies like Chevron, Exxon, Shell, and BP have built entire empires on oil extraction and refinery, employing hundreds of thousands of workers, all the while greasing the pockets of politicians with lobbying money to maintain a relatively free market concerning their product. If cannabis were made legal, hemp would follow and most, if not all of our fuel needs could be grown across the United States in less than six months.

Still, capitalism prevails. Entire fortunes were built manufacturing products that could be cheaply and efficiently replaced by cannabis or one of its derivatives. Scare tactics, social guilt, and stoner stereotypes all function to protect special interests from having their ability to generate income threatened. Politicians argue with the same, scientifically and medically debunked information to convince the public that it is evil, because legalizing its production makes social, medical, and economic sense-something of which even the most fiscally conservative voter would approve. There’s a reason this political issue has been repackaged as a moral one.