Not everyone is happy about the spread of legal cannabis in the US. Despite numerous studies that prove the effectiveness of the plant and its positive impact on curbing illegal drug distribution, some businesses simply refuse to support cannabis.
These companies, listed below, have gone out of their way to kneecap the achievements of pro-cannabis groups by making monumental donations to opposing organizations. The offerings were mostly made in 2016 – a pivotal year for the nascent industry, as residents across the country voted on legal cannabis measures during the November ballots.
Remember, supporting cannabis legalization doesn’t stop at the ballots. These companies used their earnings to derail pro-cannabis movements – money that came from the pockets of everyday consumers. Be smart about the businesses that you support by making sure their values are in line with your lifestyle and views about cannabis.
Read on to learn about trendy companies and businesses that quietly (in some cases, loudly) underpin the efforts of anti-cannabis groups.
1. Discount Tire
Discount Tire, a leading tire and wheel retailer with over 900 locations across the US, is first on the list. In 2016, the Michigan-based business splurged $1 million on an anti-marijuana campaign under Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy in Opposition to Prop. 205. At the time, the main objective of the group was to curtail the momentum of pro-cannabis organizations campaigning for the full (recreational) legalization of the plant.
Unfortunately, Prop. 205 failed to come to fruition, as voters rejected the initiative (roughly 52-48). On a positive note, medical cannabis is still legal in the state (Prop. 203), which was approved in 2010. Under Arizona legislation, patients are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for medical treatment.
Uline is the latest business to express unfavorable views toward cannabis. Recently uncovered by The Evergreen Market, a Washington-based cannabis products seller, the family-owned distributor of shipping and packing materials announced its opinion about the plant on its website:
“Marijuana stays in your system for at least 5 days. This can affect Uline warehouse employees who go up 30 feet in the air to pick products off the shelves. It affects your children or grandchildren, who may be busy telling you it’s safer than alcohol. It’s bad news. It remains a gateway drug.”
Eric Gaston, co-founder of The Evergreen Market, pointed out in a blog post that a large bulk of the industry depends on the company’s services to streamline operations. Sadly, Uline’s bold and inaccurate statements have forced some businesses in the sector to look elsewhere for their packaging needs.
3. Venetian Hotel (Las Vegas)
One of the most prolific anti-cannabis company to date is the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The upbeat hotel is owned by billionaire tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who is also owner of the Palazzo and CEO of the Sands Corporation. His net worth (projected by Forbes in 2017) is around $31 billion, giving him some serious funding power in the fight to keep cannabis illegal. Adelson’s contributions went to anti-marijuana campaigns in Arizona ($500,000), Massachusetts ($1 million) and Nevada ($2 million).
The Sands Corporation CEO also scooped up the Las Vegas Review Journal for $140 million in 2015. Many believe he used the publication as a medium to fuel his anti-marijuana interests.
4. Insys Therapeutics
Insys Therapeutics has opposed the legalization of cannabis from day one. The pharmaceutical brand is widely known for manufacturing and selling fentanyl (under Subsys), a synthetic opioid painkiller used by patients participating in chemotherapy treatments. Interestingly, Insys was responsible for releasing an FDA-approved synthetic cannabinoid (dronabinol, under Syndros). The oral spray, which was classified as a Schedule II substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) earlier this year, is designed to stimulate the appetite of patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy.
Like Discount Tire and the Venetian Hotel’s Adelson, Insys contributed to the efforts of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. According to reports, the drug maker donated $500,000 to the campaign.
In Florida, one of the largest donations against cannabis came from Publix, a popular grocery chain brand in the state. Official records confirmed that $800,000 in contributions to Drug Free Florida originated from the Carol Jenkins Barnett Family Trust. Some speculate that the company fought against cannabis legalization in order to protect its pharmaceutical establishments (Publix is one of the largest pharmacies in the area, according to Miami New Times, and therefore profits from the sale of prescription drugs that could be replaced by cannabis).
In 2016, DriveTime’s pledge to keep cannabis illegal in Arizona was issued at a very crucial time, as most of the donations to the opposing group were given in the final stretch of the battle. The $250,000 package was provided by Ernie Garcia, the owner of the business. DriveTime specializes in credit solutions for automotive purchases. In 2014, the business was fined $8 million by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) due to aggressive debt collection practices and inaccurate credit reporting to governing agencies. An investigation that supported the civil penalty found roughly 45 percent of DriveTime’s auto installment agreements to be delinquent during operations (yikes).
U-Haul, with its headquarters based in Phoenix, Arizona, joined several companies in the fight against Prop. 205. The business donated $25,000 to the opposing group with unclear motives for the offering. Compared to other donors, U-Haul has been very silent about its pledge. From a business perspective, cannabis prohibition is actually working against the brand, since illegal smugglers have been known to use the company’s trucks to transport large batches of the herb for unregulated consumption.
8. Wynn Resorts
The second Las Vegas establishment to make it on the list is Wynn Resorts. Steve Wynn, owner and CEO of the business, donated $100,000 to a massive anti-cannabis campaign in Massachusetts backed by Governor Charlie Baker. This contribution was issued just one day before Wynn received the green light to move forward with a development project in Everett. Some groups speculate that his donation was used to “nudge” the application to the state Gaming Commission in the right direction.
9. AAA (American Automobile Association)
Last but not least, the AAA of Connecticut has lashed out against legal cannabis, claiming that the plant impairs drivers on public roads. Despite a handful of studies debunking the effects of cannabis on driving, the AAA is still persistent about its negative views surrounding the herb.
“There’s no science that shows drivers become impaired at a specific level of THC in the blood. A lot depends upon the individual,” explained Joan Lowy from The Big Story.
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