Elizabeth Warren Wants Marijuana Laws That Block Amazon And Big Tobacco From Monopolizing The Legal Industry

June 11, 2023 · marijuanamoment.net

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) are calling for marijuana reform that prioritizes communities most impacted by the drug war and prevents monopolization by large corporations like Amazon and big tobacco firms.

At an event focused on creating an equitable cannabis industry on Saturday, the senators thanked activists for holding the line for small and minority marijuana businesses, and they pledged to promote legislation that aligns with that goal.

“We know that legalization alone is not enough,” Warren said in a prerecorded video played at the event. “We need to ensure that the communities most harmed by the war on drugs are at the front of the line for reaping the benefits of legalization and we need to legalize in a way that avoids Big Tobacco and alcohol corporations or retail giants from dominating the cannabis market.”

“Because if it is left to its own devices, the industry is gonna head in that direction. We’re already seeing some of those companies like Amazon lobbying for cannabis legalization,” the senator said, adding that she’s “deeply skeptical that Amazon’s lobbying is anything more than a self-interested move to monopolize yet another market, potentially blocking Black and Latino entrepreneurs from an emerging industry.”

“Now is the time to get creative and think big about how we can ensure fairness and competition in the cannabis industry,” she said. “I am proud to be in this fight with all of you.”

The senator’s comments aligned with the main theme of the cannabis policy “crash course,” which was organized by the Parabola Center for Law and Policy, a think tank working to educate people about the potential ramifications of consolidated ownership in the marijuana sector.

(Disclosure: Parabola founder Shaleen Title supports Marijuana Moment’s work via a monthly Patreon pledge.)

“Right now, we have the rare opportunity to shape how a new industry develops from the ground up,” Warren said. “And that means we have the chance to avoid repeating the same old story of corporations crowding out small businesses and dominating markets.”

Markey also addressed attendees in a prerecorded video, saying that “we know all too well that the war on drugs was a failure.” He added that the same communities that have been disproportionately criminalized under prohibition “stood up and fought for a different future.”

“It is because of their leadership that we are seeing a significant change to cannabis law all across the United States,” he said, noting President Joe Biden’s mass marijuana pardon last year and efforts in Massachusetts to ensure that its legal cannabis market puts equity first.

“But our work is only just beginning,” he said. “A patchwork of local and state laws creates confusion and barriers that big business exploits to make big bucks at the expense of communities already decimated by the war on drugs. Congress must legalize cannabis and prioritize equity.”

“In developing cannabis policy, Congress must give a voice to the communities harmed by the war on drugs. Nothing about them without them,” he said. “We’re in a new era of federal cannabis policy. But that doesn’t erase the harmful effects of decades of criminalization.”

“I’m ready to work together to create a new system—a system that emphasizes inclusion, that emphasizes empowerment, that emphasizes equity,” he added. “Let’s all work together to achieve those goals.”

The Federal Cannabis Policy Crash Course also featured cannabis regulators from Massachusetts, New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as representatives of major marijuana advocacy groups like the Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Justice, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Ahead of the crash course, Parabola released an “anti-monopoly toolkit” that provides an overview of state and federal policy priorities to prevent corporate consolidation that could threaten small cannabis businesses in the industry.

In 2021, Parabola proposed changes to a House-passed federal marijuana legalization bill that sought to ensure that the market is equitable and empowers communities that have been most impacted by prohibition to benefit from the new industry.

Late last year, the center also sounded the alarm about the influence of the tobacco and alcohol industries in shaping federal cannabis reform and encouraging lawmakers to rethink the idea of modeling legal marijuana regulations after those that are in place for booze.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in April that he plans to reintroduce a comprehensive cannabis legalization bill, but its prospects of passage in a divided Congress, with Republicans in control of the House, are in question.

Instead, advocates are closely following to see what kind of incremental reform might be achievable this session, with a bipartisan cannabis banking bill expected to receive a Senate committee hearing in the near future, for example. (Full Story)

In categories:Federal Policy Politics
Next Post

New Hampshire Lawmaker Defects From Republican Party, Partially Over Senate Marijuana Legalization Bill Defeat

A New Hampshire House lawmaker says that he’s defecting from the Republican party to become in an independent—in part because of his frustration over the Senate’s repeated refusal to approve marijuana legalization. Rep. Dan Hynes said on Tuesday that he…
Previous Post

Federal Bill Introduced to Allow Cannabis Research at Universities

A House bill introduced Tuesday aims to promote cannabis research at universities and eliminate federal barriers for researchers. The Higher Education Marijuana Research Act was introduced by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO).  In a statement, Titus, a member…
Random Post

Former Knick Al Harrington Brings Star Power to Cannabis Event in Brooklyn

Former New York Knick Al Harrington was back in the Big Apple for the Revelry event on August 28 at Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn. Harrington's Knick career spanned two seasons (2008-2010). In the 2008-2009 season, the 6-foot-9 forward peaked with a 20…
Random Post

Budtenders at Columbus, Ohio Dispensary First in State to Join Teamsters

Budtenders at Strawberry Fields in Columbus, Ohio last week voted to join Teamsters Local 413, becoming the first in the state to join the union. In a statement Tony Jones, Teamsters International vice president at large and president of Local 413, said…
Random Post

Company At Center Of Missouri’s Massive Marijuana Recall Threatens Lawsuit That Could Upend Regulations

Missouri’s crackdown on a cannabis company accused of illegally importing THC concentrate could lead to a showdown over the state’s authority to regulate the industry. Delta Extraction had its license to manufacture cannabis products revoked in November, months after a massive recall pulled…
Random Post

We're Going to Need a Bigger Boat - NY Tries to Shut Down Illegal Cannabis Shops as California Says Welcome to Our World

On the eve of the highly anticipated opening of Brooklyn's first legal adult-use store, state authorities in New York marked a significant milestone—the permanent closure of a long-standing illicit marijuana operation in the borough. The legal action taken to permanently…