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As state marijuana officials convene for a crucial meeting to discuss the framework for nationwide marijuana legalization, they must avoid giving a seat at the table to Big Tobacco.
The Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) holds an annual closed-door meeting with major marijuana associations and public officials overseeing the industry. While private discussions between regulators and stakeholders are essential, it's essential to question the participants' identities.
For the second year in a row, the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation (CPEAR) has secured a spot at the meeting. However, hidden behind this innocuous name are some of the most notorious entities in American capitalism: Altria (formerly Philip Morris) and Reynolds American, both major cigarette manufacturers. CPEAR also includes a convenience store industry group and alcohol giant Molson Coors, among others.
Tobacco companies have a dark history of neglecting public health, using manipulative marketing tactics to target vulnerable communities, especially teenagers. They have attempted to evade accountability and resist regulations by funding biased research and creating front groups to push their interests.
In contrast, public health regulations and preventing youth cannabis use are critical components of every state's cannabis regulatory regime. Allowing tobacco companies into the marijuana industry could endanger these essential pillars through their deceptive tactics.
While CANNRA argues for neutrality and inviting all cannabis industry groups, the inclusion of tobacco companies is concerning. Just giving them a seat at the table grants them credibility and legitimacy they don't deserve.
Some people argue that the entry of Big Tobacco into the cannabis market may lead to federal decriminalization and regulation, bringing in more money to the industry. However, this also raises concerns about monopolization and control by large corporations.
As consumers, it's essential to be aware of who is shaping the cannabis industry. While home-growing or seeking private sources is an option, the reality is that big corporations have significant lobbying power that can influence regulations and policies.
In the end, the goal should be to promote a fair and balanced cannabis industry that prioritizes public health and consumer safety. By keeping Big Tobacco out of the conversation, we can work towards a responsible and transparent cannabis regulatory framework that serves the public's best interests.