The Complicated Risks, And Fears Of Monopolies On American Weed

US (PT)– As cannabis normalization spreads, powerful lobbies are organizing in response. Not to snuff legalization out, but to capitalize on its copious profits. This has now developed reasonable concerns that these lobbies will secure a monopoly. It’s a phenomenon already occurring in some respects, unbeknownst to many.

It’s a subversive out taking embarked by at least two entities, the tobacco and pharmaceutical lobbies. For decades, these two juggernauts have inhibited any notion of cannabis legalization. The cash herb, due to its versatile array of uses, threatens large swaths of their business. Now, with reform wild firing, lobbyists are falling back to an old philosophy. If you can’t beat’em, join’em, but then dominate.

According to Green Rush Daily, pharmaceutical companies spent a lofty $78.5 million in 2016 alone lobbying congress. A sizable portion of those lobbyists, 63.5%, exploited the revolving door and were once too politicians. Since they can’t stop legalization, entities have opted to force out small cannabis growers and limit their product. Lately, the focus has been CBD products, medically viable compounds with limited psychoactive effects.

It’s lack of euphoric effects has made some states more lenient to CBD use in medical situations. CBD has gained notoriety for its treatment of epilepsy, particularly with childhood disorders. Since first inching it’s way into the public square, CBD has been linked to a plethora of uses and treatments. However, legislative pitfalls, stigma, and propaganda continues to stifle its full implementation. It’s a stall game which is buying the pharmaceutical industry time to monopolize that corner of the playing field.

The plot centers around proposed bills to reclassify CBD as technically not cannabis. If successful, then federal bans on the herb won’t apply to CBD compound products. However, one CBD company–GW Pharmaceuticals–is lobbying to ensure legalization only applies to products approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Right now, Green Rush Daily reports, GW pharmaceuticals is the only with FDA approval in the market. Although countless smaller operations–ma & pa types–distribute quality product, they’re not FDA validated. Similar ploys to monopolize the cannabis game have cropped up since legalization, though extinguished by public resistance.

Of course, the company does not confirm the allegations made against it. Rather, GW Pharmaceuticals asserts it’s simply paving a way for cannabis products, GW or otherwise, in the American market. Although the company has seen growth internationally, the United States’ drug laws are difficult to break through. Thus, it becomes worth asking would any monopoly achieved by GW Pharmaceuticals be a result of capitalist ambitions, or a prudent government?

A prohibitive society may be the very reason cannabis monopolies are even a possibility. For decades, that monopoly was the black market. Now, the new kids on the block are smaller operations and corporate counterparts. When federal agents decide to raid grow op’s, who do you think the targets are? Large multi-national corporations with legal resources, or small family owned shops? Usually it’s the latter. And when that happens, we’re reminded that even Colorado kush is far from legal. It’s simply a different kind of illegal now, however nonsensical.

Then there’s the interesting comparison between legal cannabis areas in other western countries. In the UK, a publicly available cannabis research facility was is slated to open during 2017’s summer. Among other things, the facility hopes to develop innovations in CBD medicines, cannabis agriculture, and everything else. That’s a huge difference in mentality from the American phenomenon of cannabis monopolization.

Are such projects the enemy of companies like GW Pharmaceuticals, and would they attempt to supersede them? If not, then what’s really to blame for America’s possible cannabis monopolies? Decades of rigid prohibition snowballing into the current reality? Or is it lobbyists working in the halls of government to corner the cannabis market at any cost? Mind you, GW Pharmaceuticals isn’t the only drug company in the cannabis sphere. While some continue the fight to keep the herb illegal, GW appears to be a step ahead of the curve.

The tobacco lobby is much less of a grey area, however. According to Boston Globe, it’s a state-by-state game of domination starting with Massachusetts. With legalization legislation passed recently, the state will begin cannabis sales next year in 2018. It’s not even operational yet! Despite that, the tobacco industry is aiming to bring it’s business model of taxes, domination of product transport, and tracking to the field. Anyone who believes in a free market should be outraged by this. Essentially, tobacco retailers want to insert themselves as legally-mandated middlemen for all cannabis sales. Anyone not going through them are as criminal as cigarette sellers on the corner.

All of this could be interpreted as good omens for some, however. If nothing else, it signifies a kind of white flag from those who’ve opposed legalization for decades. Entities who’s efforts against the herb are so enduring, that their almost the subjects of common house jokes. You only try to seize a market if you know it’s going to boom, or that you can’t stop it anymore. The bad news is that few American’s are truly aware of the nuances and volatility of the cannabis market. While it’s been a success where allowed, those forming it’s work base know they’re at risk. Pushing against those envisioning monopolies starts with people realizing it’s happening. It’s a race which might not be won by the time the whims of lobbyists are codified on paper in Washington.

This article was prepared by Isiah Holmes for The Pontiac Tribune.