Are Big Businesses Lobbying to Keep Marijuana Illegal?

| by NORML

By "Radical" Russ Belville

Mother Jones Magazine published last year an article detailing “Capitol Hill’s Top 75 Corporate Sponsors” based on their campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures in Washington DC from 1989-2010. I thought it might be interesting to review the list with an eye toward which ones could be pushing Washington hardest to hold the line on marijuana prohibition vs. which ones seek its end.

Big Banking & Finance: 3 Goldman SachsCitigroup10 American Bankers Association14 JPMorgan Chase16 Morgan Stanley23 Bank of America24 Ernst & Young28Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 29 Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 30 UBS,35 Merrill Lynch40 Credit Suisse44 American Financial Group51MBNA63 Securities Industry and Financial Market Association

Who knows if the titans of big finance are strong-arming politicians to maintain marijuana prohibition?  With so many other issues important to their industry, from regulation to bail outs, why would they care if the herb is verboten?  When you read The Guardian’s piece on $378 billion money-laundered by Wachovia for Mexican drug traffickers or Bloomberg’s report on Bank of America’s financing of three planes for traffickers to transport 10 tons of cocaine into America, you begin to see the motivation to keep that steady flow of illicit cash into the world finance system.

Big Pharma & Healthcare: American Medical Association20 Pfizer,25 Blue Cross/Blue Shield27 American Hospital Association31 Aflac,45 GlaxoSmithKline62 American Health Care Association66 Eli Lilly74 Bristol-Myers Squibb

Despite the AMA’s recent call to remove cannabis from Schedule I, they make the list because their reason for the call is to allow study of cannabis for its eventual pharmaceuticalization.  It’s obvious why most of these companies would not wish to see patients growing their own medicine that reduces their need for prescription meds and leads to fewer doctor visits?

Big Alcohol & Tobacco: Altria12 National Beer Wholesalers Association36 Reynolds American41 Anheuser-Busch, 52 UST

The motivations are transparent for the purveyors of legal recreational substances.  While you can grow your own tobacco and brew your own beer, it’s time and labor intensive.  Why would they wish to compete with a recreational substance the customer can grow on their own?  They don’t, so much so that they were among the initial funders, along with Big Pharma, for the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Big Defense Contractors: 18 Lockheed Martin19 General Electric, 33Boeing, 37 Northrop Grumman, 43 General Dynamics

Defense contractors?  When you sell weapons of war, you’ve got to have an armed enemy firing back at you to maintain production.  That enemy needs ready cash to purchase illegal arms on the black market.  When you learn how the opium trade fuels the Taliban in Afghanistan, how cocaine trafficking is making allies of Colombian rebels and al Qaeda terrorists, and how marijuana is setting up the next big shooting war just south of us in Mexico, you realize that these corporations can’t have global drug prohibition unraveling by the first step of marijuana legalization.

Big Energy: 46 Chevron, 49 ExxonMobil75 Enron

Switchgrass.  Algae.  Corn Ethanol.  Natural Gas.  “Clean” Coal.  Everybody recognizes the need for alternative fuels to end our reliance on oil.  It seems inconceivable that these companies would resist development of hempseed oil, the original fuel for the original diesel engine, but if they’ve already invested in other alternative fuel sources, why legalize hemp and create competitors or a need to re-direct investments?

Besides, they still have plenty of oil left to sell, and in products you never think of.  Your plastic goods.  Pesticides and fertilizers for your food.  Building materials.  Plus a few dozen other products whose manufacturers wouldn’t need to buy petroleum if they had cheaper sustainable hempseed oil to replace it with.

Big Agribusiness: 69 Archer Daniels Midland

Second only to oil in the “who knew it was in so much stuff?” category is corn.  High fructose corn syrup accounts for about half of all sugars in the American diet.  It’s in your ketchup, for Pete’s sake!  There’s also a symbiotic relationship between the food industry producing ethanol for Big Energy and the returned favor of producing pesticides and herbicides for Big Agribusiness.  A flourishing hemp industry would produce hempseed oil for energy and the remaining hempseed becmes nutritious protein for people and livestock.  Even the remaining farmers of other crops would use less fertilizers as farmers use hemp as a rotational crop and revitalizes the soil naturally.

So remember: even though a slim majority of 300 million American People would like to see the end of marijuana prohibition, a slim majority of the 75 Biggest Corporate People probably would rather keep things the way they are.