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Cannabis Under Corporate Capture: The infiltration of American Democracy & False Funding

Updated: Mar 20

The term "corporate cannabis" has lost its gusto. Frequently mentioned, yet never identified, "corporate cannabis" concerns can be seen and heard far and wide, yet the results are nil. Many must believe the corporate cannabis thing to be a "concern" unique to cannabis, without understanding the widespread takeover of every major industry through corporate capture and big-money influence. Serious concerns with devastating effects for the general population. The cannabis industry serves as the perfect microcosm of the global economy, granting us a fresh new perspective to witness (or stop) the corporate theft of a culture, an industry, a country, a government, and the plant they spent decades demonizing.




Corporate Capture Defined

“Corporate capture' is a phenomenon where private industry uses its political influence to take control of the decision-making apparatus of the state, such as regulatory agencies, law enforcement entities, and legislatures," says the Center For Constitutional Rights. Cannabis is a prime example to highlight the tyrannical control of corporate power, and how that power is used to secure industry advantage.


There You Are Painting by waynehorse
They're Coming For Cannabis, "There You Are"... by Wayne Horse Does An Excellent Job of Visualizing The Corporate One-Percent...


In Captured: The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse warns that “corporations of vast wealth and remorseless staying power have moved into our politics to seize for themselves advantages that can be seized only by control over government.” The results are widespread and can be seen throughout the regulations of the new cannabis industry. From lax and unregulated state testing, supply chain issues, remediation of contaminated cannabis, (not once, but twice using harsh chemical solvents and is NOT disclosed to consumers), to the failure to implement the basic standards of lab analysis and the incomprehensible nature of the testing results, which make it impossible to compare one brand's numbers to another, the regulations support mass-production of the lowest quality cannabis products in California. In other words, the regulations support uninformed consumption, deception, and corporate greed, regardless of consequence.


Painting by Terrell Jones titled: "Moribund Melody" with a red skull with horns sitting on a red piano being played by a skeleton with horns in a business suit.
Painting by Terrell Jones titled: "Moribund Melody"

Most of the pro-cannabis propaganda is cultivated by corporate lobbyists & their marketing firms, while also helping to mask low-quality products behind a veil of do-good cannabis education & support. Voices spoke loudly about the advantages of regulated cannabis, masking greed and bad intentions, behind overly-generalized, basically useless cannabis information that never explains the actual product they sell. There was always something that did not feel right with these broad attempts to inform based on out-of-date information, coming from seemingly separate sources that will become readily apparent by the end of this article. Questionable attempts to educate and reform the system fall flat to the informed consumer.


Our Struggle: Founding Fathers

America’s founders recognized the danger of corporate capture. In 1816, Thomas Jefferson warned the new republic to “crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of their country.” The corporate take-over is long past the days of infancy, without someone to "crush in its birth" monied corporations who have dared to destroy our way of life, in return for wealth & power. They now hold positions in government.


Almost a century later, President Theodore Roosevelt, in his annual address to Congress in 1907, said:

"The fortunes amassed through corporate organization are now so large, and vest such power in those that wield them, as to make it a matter of necessity to give to the sovereign—that is, to the Government, which represents the people as a whole—some effective power of supervision over their corporate use." They had found the one loophole in the U.S. Constitution and exploited it for all it's worth.




In his book, Sen. Whitehouse calls out the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, which has “obediently repaid the corporate powers by changing the basic operating systems of our democracy in ways that consistently give big corporate powers even more power in our process of government, rewiring our democracy to corporate advantage.” State legalization without Federal approval is probably the clearest example of corporate capture & influence to ever occur on American soil. The reasons to resist Big Cannabis are clearer than ever.


In the case now overruled by Citizens United, the Court upheld corporate political spending-rules, decrying “the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” The public's support and a new image for cannabis was needed.


So-called philanthropic foundations are often the proxies for billionaire families who want influence and launch these tools to professionalize their influence seeking.

Blatant Corruption


The revolving door between industry and the federal agencies regulating them is back in full swing thanks to the prior administrations loosening restrictions on lobbyists taking posts at agencies they previously sought to influence on behalf of corporate clients. Trump immediately rewarded his largest donors with top ranking cabinet seats. Dozens of Federally registered lobbyists were quickly appointed. Propublica, a non-profit newsgroup was the first to report on this:


For example, "lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance companies are now in key posts at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; a lobbyist for the construction industry who fought wage and worker safety standards now works for the U.S. Department of Labor; a lobbyist for the extractive resources industry is now at the U.S. Department of Energy; and a for-profit college lobbyist who sought to weaken protections for students worked at the U.S. Department of Education."

We are beyond corporate capture in every major industry, with serious harm to our communities. "Corporate entities with no natural limits and endless resources can wage a long-term, sustained attack across policy making pressure points.” Accomplishing corporate aims through “heavy lawyer-ing of the rule making and enforcement processes, often as simple brute pressure to cause delay and cost,” are precisely the early tactics everyone envisioned, but could not prevent. While there are a lot of poor cannabis farmers out there (most of them), hundreds more are unable to afford constant changes and ludicrous fees, fines, taxes, and regulations required to do business. We all see those who sacrificed for years now going out of business, broken by corporate brands with immense wealth playing the waiting game, patient to drive out the competition in exchange for near-market monopoly and generational wealth further down the road.


BUT HOW?


"Billionaire owners are often engaged in battles to expand the influence of the corporations that give them their power and wealth. Front Groups and Lobbying Groups are often the ground troops when corporate powers don't want to get their own hands dirty or when they want to institutionalize their influence. So-called philanthropic foundations are often the proxies for billionaire families who want influence and launch these tools to professionalize their influence seeking. This apparatus may seem like a complicated and unwieldy way to exert influence, but it allows them to give the public the old razzle-dazzle, running intricate plays with what appear to be many independent voices," says Senator Whitehouse. It looks good from the outside doesn't it? They "have acquired influence in increasingly compliant & corporate owned media," which explains the support for all things corporate-cannabis, despite the products.


Whitehouse continues, "Corporations are less likely to say this themselves, and outsource the crafting & selling of this alternate reality to an array of front groups with innocent sounding respectable names'' such as, Last Prisoner Project, Social Equity Orgs, Trichome Institute, etc. Now the pro-pot corporate marketing makes sense, they're all connected. The gut feeling that something wasn’t right when super general cannabis information began appearing from a list of previously unknown sources, was accurate. The education and message coming from these sources is a near mockery of outdated cannabis lore, with filthy intentions, worse than imagined. Cannabis is under Corporate Capture, but so is the rest of Democracy.


After 100 years of false propaganda, fake studies, errant science, the criminalization of cultures, and the sprawling prison industrial complex, the corporate agenda could no longer ignore the rising tides of legalization. The facts were too clear to continue lying and the incentive to lock-up cannabis users had been lost on the population. They switch gears utilizing their immense corporate bureaucracy to “construct a pro-corporate alternate reality: Climate Change is fake, tobacco isn't bad for you", and guess what? There’s suddenly support for legal cannabis and criminal justice reform coming from a list of seemingly independent voices. Now corporations are free to profit from cannabis without ruffling too many feathers.



kentucky derby by Ralph Steadman
"Kentucky Derby" by Ralph Steadman. Forget about AI artwork....


Wasted Donations & Front-Groups

This explains the media coverage and scope of funding wasted on high profile pot prisoners by non-profits, while others continue to be locked up for the same charge. Millions in donations, used to pay a few high-priced (scum-bag) attorneys to knock a few years off high-profile cases with lengthy sentences, ignoring millions more who need actual legislative change and a few bucks after being released. As a victim in the war on drugs, no one has ever helped or reached out and these types of orgs and non-profits are unheard of to the prisoners inside. They are simply fronts for influence, run by massively overpaid lawyers.


The Industry Captured

The regulations around state lab testing provide very little usable information to consumers. The bare minimum requirements such as, remaining mold, mildew, and pest free, are allowed to hit the market in a long list of "remediated" products, without disclosing this information to consumers. Right now the industry is overflowing with rotten and remediated cannabis products, mainly edibles and vape carts. Since this process is clearly outlined in the regulations, but is not required to be disclosed, it's safe to say every product made with chemical solvents (besides a live Resin BHO...maybe...) came from contaminated cannabis. Regulations like these, which clearly benefit corporate mass producers, and harms consumers, can only come under corporate capture.


how to help

From public perception, education, information, to lax testing without oversight, to diabolical regulations allowing chemical solvents to clean contaminated biomass, to taxes, prices, and the low-quality of products, cannabis has been raped by the corporate sector. Then again, so have the people and the people's government. For cannabis, there may still be time. The solution however, lies in our combined purchasing power and each person's willingness to help, share, and inform those around them. In other words, it requires us to care for one another and practice the principles inherent in the effects of the plant.


... And if you really want to help a cannabis felon, feel free to reach out.

 

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