In a press release issued this morning, the new coalition announced its commitment to ending the prohibition, criminalization and over-regulation of cannabis in the United States. The Cannabis Freedom Alliance (CFA) says its core values include federal downsizing, criminal justice reform, rehabilitation and second chance success, promotion of free market entrepreneurship, and reasonable tax rates.

Who is in favour of CFA?

The organizations that founded the CFA are Americans for Prosperity (AFP), Mission Green/The Weldon Project, Reason Foundation, and Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (GACC). Take a look at this list and see if you recognize the names. AFP is a well-known conservative and libertarian political lobbying group founded and funded by the Koch brothers. The Reason Foundation, another libertarian think tank and advocate for prison privatization, also named the Koch brothers as its largest donors in 2012.

 

The Koch family company makes hundreds of billions of dollars a year in the oil and gas industry and has exerted enormous political influence for decades. They regularly donate hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican campaigns. Historically, they have played an important role in opposing climate change legislation. They are widely known as conservative advocates of corporate tax cuts, welfare reduction and deregulation.

Interestingly, famed criminal justice reform advocate Weldon Angelos and rapper Snoop Dogg apparently joined the Koch-backed CFA group after learning from Charles Koch at a Zoom meeting that he believes all drugs should be legalized, as Politico reports. You can’t cut with scissors. We need the Republicans to pass [the legalization bill], Angelos told Politico. The connection between cannabis legalization and traditional Republican and Libertarian values is clear: Their ideology of free markets, individual freedoms and the small state fits well with the legalization movement.

Big oil, alcohol and tobacco, Oh my God!

The Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation (CPEAR) is a group formed in March 2021. The two founding members are Altria, a Marlboro cigarette company, and Molson Coors, a multinational alcohol producer. CPEAR’s website states that they want to work towards responsible federal reform. We represent a broad group of stakeholders – from public safety to social justice – focused on creating a responsible and fair federal regulatory framework for cannabis in the United States.nal Association of Convenience Stores, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers and Convenience Distribution Association. In other words, the group consists of large and powerful business interest groups representing the alcohol, tobacco, insurance and hunting industries.

NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) have both spoken out against the SPEAR. According to Eric Altieri, executive director of NORML, it’s a matter of companies stepping forward and working to change the law so their businesses can benefit from legalization. We have seen how big money and corporate influence have corrupted and tarnished many other sectors, Altieri said. We cannot allow the legal marijuana industry to be their next paycheck.

The APA also submitted comments against the EARPB. Cassandra Frederick, executive director of the DPW, says she urges elected officials to be careful when choosing attorneys from these entities. We have long been concerned about large commercial interests entering the legal marijuana market, Frederick says. Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco have a terrible history of predatory tactics to sell their products and build their brands – often targeting low-income communities and fighting public health regulations that protect people.

While their motivations and desired outcomes remain unclear, it is clear that we are entering a new era of the cannabis legalization movement, which powerful non-cannabis companies are looking to join. Whether in oil and gas, insurance, security, tobacco or alcohol, these groups use their power and money to influence cannabis policy reform.

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