In any industry, shady practices allow businesses to cut corners and increase profits. From mis-labeling strains, to using shortcuts that undermine the fine art of cultivation, certain tactics used in the cannabis industry are shameful and becoming hot-button topics. If you live in one of the 21 U.S. states yet to decriminalize or actualize any form of cannabis legalization, politics and a strong anti-pot lobby may be to blame. Pulling an industry from the throes of prohibition is no easy feat. Here, we take a look at six pressing issues facing the legitimization of cannabis legalization today.
Some canna-businesses falsely label strains.
Quite simply, both cultivators and retailers sometimes sell less popular or unidentified varieties of cannabis labeled as popular strain names in order to charge higher prices. In other instances, plants are accidentally mislabeled during cultivation and sold under the wrong name. From time to time, producers will make-up new strain names for poor quality harvests of a popular strain, allowing cultivators to sell inferior quality product to consumers while protecting the reputation of the popular strain.
Growing cannabis can create a massive carbon footprint.
Cannabis production requires large amounts of water. This is especially pertinent in drought stricken areas such as California. In legal states, where production is regulated, land-use policies are being put in place, forcing producers to fully strategize their environmental impacts to gain licensure. However, in unregulated markets, unlicensed growers have been known to cut back and erode forests, poison surrounding wildlife with their use of synthetic nutrients and chemical pesticides, and illegally use water from local rivers and streams. Furthermore, since the practice of growing indoors is a by-product of cannabis criminalization that forces cultivators to hide operations “underground,” indoor grows with expansive HVAC and lighting systems can use more energy per square foot than a data center.
Some growers use harmful chemicals during cultivation.
Synthetic and harmful chemical fungicides, pesticides, and nutrients are used in cannabis cultivation today. Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid consuming cannabis products grown this way, especially concentrates. Companies like Scotts Miracle-Gro are cashing in on the Green Rush by buying up smaller ancillary grow businesses. Whether or not the company’s focus will be on using all-natural high-quality products in the cannabis space is yet to be determined. Scotts is the longtime product marketing arm of Monsanto, whose worldwide efforts to proliferate varying forms of GMOs have many people questioning a chemical company’s place in agriculture. Its product Round-Up, a weedkiller containing Glyphosate, is incredibly controversial.
The alcohol industry is lobbying hard against recreational legalization.
Recent WikiLeaks articles have provided insight into wine and spirit lobbies looking to protect sales against people choosing cannabis over alcohol. Now, it looks as though beer manufacturers are concerned, too. The Beer Distributors PAC, representing over a dozen Massachusetts-based beer distribution companies, donated $25,000 to the anti-pot organization Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts. The producers of Sam Adams, the second-largest American-owned brewery, recently targeted Massachusetts recreational marijuana legalization in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing. In it, the company stated that this year’s election results could “adversely affect the demand” for its products. The prospect of cannabis legalization has rival alcohol producers questioning their bottom line, just as groups with a stake in the prison-industrial complex are.
Big Tobacco wants in on cannabis.
A recent rumor that Marlboro brand cannabis cigarettes were being made has been debunked, but Philip Morris, now known as the conglomerate Altria, has been so eager to profit from legalization that it sought a French trademark and intellectual property rights for the name “Marley”—as in Bob Marley—in 1993. Today, Altria subsidiary Nu-Mark is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of electronic cigarettes, signalling that its entry to the cannabis market could look less like cigarettes and more like the healthier alternative, vaping. Once everyone’s completed all the heavy lifting to roll out cannabis legalization across the United States, gigantic producers like Nu-Mark can simply replace e-juice with CO2 oil, and voilà, their expansive production capabilities enable market domination. Just last year, Philip Morris invested $20 million in Syqe, an Israeli company that patented a unique cannabis inhaler similar to those used in the treatment of asthma. With a footprint in wine, e-cigs, tobacco, and eventually cannabis, investing in Syqe can be interpreted as a step into adding cannabis pharmaceuticals to Altria’s portfolio.
Veterans still have difficulty accessing cannabis.
Recent legislation has made it legal for doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans across the United States. However, the law only allows safe access in states that have a regulated medical marijuana program. This excludes veterans living in a whopping 21 states across the country. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs has acknowledged the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in the treatment of PTSD, the most common range of symptoms experienced by our veterans. Anecdotally, we know that cannabis can help relieve pain, stress, tension, and prevent dangerous pharmaceutical opiate addiction. If there’s ever a reason to get to the polls on Nov. 8 and cast a ballot for your state’s marijuana initiative, this is it.