A Former DEA Chief Joins the CBD Advisory Board for Giant Food Corporations
The board also includes an ex-Monsanto exec, a former mayor, a former police commissioner, and an IT security dude.
Published on January 23, 2020

The first female head of the DEA, Karen Tandy, recently joined the CBD advisory board at the Consumer Brands Association, a national trade group that represents megacorporations like Coca-Cola, Tyson Foods, The Hershey Company, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Del Monte, Kraft, and Pepsico. 

According to the Consumer Brands Association’s press release, the board’s purpose is “to guide the organization’s work to enhance safety and ensure appropriate oversight in the burgeoning cannabidiol (CBD) market for consumer packaged goods.” CBD is a non-intoxicating chemical found in cannabis that businesses are racing to infuse into cosmetics, wellness products, clothing, bedding, food, and drinks with practically no regulation.

“The individuals that we have assembled have decades of experience in tackling issues like the one we face today — the smart regulation of CBD,” said Consumer Brands Association’s President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “Each of the advisory board members brings a unique perspective that will be crucial in helping inform and guide the [consumer packaged goods] industry’s advocacy approach on this rapidly evolving issue.”

But what “advocacy approach” is Freeman talking about? The ex-DEA chief, Karen Tandy, kickstarted her government career by rabidly hating on cannabis and anyone who advocated for it. She’s not exactly a prime candidate for the “smart regulation of CBD.” 


Karen Tandy, head narc of the CBD Advisory Board

Tandy ran the DEA from 2003 to 2007 under President Bush. During her Senate confirmation hearing, she pledged to raid, prosecute, and ultimately ruin the lives of countless medical marijuana patients — just to keep a relatively harmless plant outlawed. She stated, on record, that she didn’t believe medical marijuana was a real thing, and that only Marinol, a form of lab-made THC, could medicinally benefit anyone.

Then, when she finally took over the DEA, she turned what was once a national counterdrug police force into a paramilitary intelligence agency with global reach and unchecked jurisdiction

Back in 2005, while she was running the DEA, Tandy charged Canada’s “Prince of Pot,” Marc Emery, with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and money laundering. His crime? Selling some cannabis seeds in Canada

Regardless of how you may feel about Emery and his recent sexual harassment scandal, the fact that a Canadian can even be convicted by American authorities for committing a minor crime in Canada is absolutely insane. 

When Tandy first brought federal charges against Emery, she told the press that it was “a significant blow…to the marijuana legalization movement,” and baselessly accused cannabis advocacy groups of being funded by illicit drug money. By her own admission, the Emery case wasn’t about stopping an insidious drug lord from hurting innocent people. It was about sending a harsh message to the entire movement.

Initially, Emery faced up to life imprisonment. He was eventually extradited to the US in 2010, three years after Tandy had left the DEA. After a plea deal and good behavior, he served four years in a US prison — for selling seeds in Canada.

Now, Tandy has the honor of serving on an uber-conglomerate’s CBD advisory board with four other narcs. The most notable among them is the revolving-door crony Michael Taylor, an attorney by trade who worked for the Bond-villain biotech company Monsanto throughout the ‘80s. In the ‘90s, he left Monsanto to work first at the US FDA, then later at the US Department of Agriculture, crafting shady regulations that basically let Monsanto do whatever it wanted. In 1996, he went back to work for Monsanto. By 2009, he jumped back into the FDA, where he continued to act as Monsanto’s inside man until 2016.

The other three CBD advisory board members are a former Oklahoma City mayor; a former Boston police commissioner; and an IT specialist who’s partially responsible for Facebook’s anti-drug policies that ban CBD and other cannabis content. In other words, no one on the trade group’s CBD advisory board knows shit about weed or CBD. 

Where are the chemists? Where are the doctors? Where are the hemp farmers, the extraction artists, or the cannabis chefs? In other words, where are the actual cannabis experts on this CBD board? 

And why did the Consumer Brands Association, which represents some of the biggest name brands on the planet, decide to get CBD advice from cops and a corrupt federal regulator? 

This board’s makeup appears incredibly suspect given that CBD and hemp are federally legal now. We have no idea where this development will go, but it doesn’t look promising.

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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