Today, people across the country observe today’s official holiday celebrating marijuana. April 20th, or 4/20, is known as “Weed Day” in some circles because the date corresponds with an alleged police numerical code for marijuana. However, the origin of the term is as nebulous as the future of decriminalized cannabis.
This is the first 420 being celebrated under the Trump Administration. Unfortunately this has become an important point to ponder as anti-pot pundits are pushing for harsher laws on the use of it.
President Trump himself hasn’t spoken extensively about weed or the legalization debate, though suggesting he favored medical marijuana use when asked about it once on the campaign trail.
The Trump Administration is signaling a crackdown on federal drug laws, leaving apprehensive top officials in states that have legalized recreational marijuana searching for answers.
Senior Trump Administration members have hinted that they plan to more strictly enforce drug laws, a reversal from the Obama Administration, which largely tolerated legal marijuana industries in states where voters had given the go-ahead.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has in the past urged local law enforcement officials to take a tougher stance against cartels importing drugs across the southern border.
However, during his confirmation process, Sessions told Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado that federal enforcement of marijuana laws in legalization states would not be a priority for the Trump Administration.
Most elected officials opposed legalization efforts in their states. But once voters have spoken, those elected officials don’t want federal officials cracking down on a product that is legal under state law, though still illegal at the federal level.
And the marijuana industry is a boon for state economies, with legal marijuana sales over $1 billion in Colorado last year.
Marijuana legalization proponents still cling to comments President Trump made during the campaign, when he pledged to leave regulation up to the states.
So the fate of legal cannabis under Trump in any state, and on a federal level is as cloudy as a college dorm at twenty minutes after four on April 20th.
Now, there is another threat to marijuana, especially to growers and consumers and that of course, is a conspiracy to create “Big Marijuana,” that is Marijuana that will be hijacked by “Big Pharma.”
It’s hard to have a discussion about marijuana policy that doesn’t become a discussion about the big rumors about “Big Marijuana.”
Any discussion of “Big Marijuana” is tossed about so freely and flippantly that it has come to be a catch-all moniker with no consistent meaning, except inasmuch as it is consistently a pejorative.
Even the idea of a takeover of “Big Pharma” creating “Big Marijuana” takes the fun out of any 420 celebration, but it most certainly needs to be discussed.
The reason is simple anything Big Pharma touches becomes a for profit boondoggle where the cannabis industry could fall under the control of a few macro-corporations that create substantial social costs while hiding critical information from the public and manipulating and deceiving regulators.
There are several reasons to hate these Big Pharma maneuvers as we have seen what Big Tobacco does with their consumers.
Just thinking about the move conjures up images of greedy corporations capitalizing on heavy users, luring minors to use it, and generally developing products that ride roughshod on the public interest that put profits before public health.
Pharmaceutical companies compartmentalizing cannabis will bulldoze over the work of small operators and, with them, the social ideals of the marijuana counterculture.
No one wants the cannabis industry to do to consumers what the tobacco industry perpetrated during much of the 20th century. Especially when pure tobacco products were tainted by Big Tobacco with some 600 ingredients that are used in American cigarette.
The complete list of chemicals added to your cigarettes is too long to list. Here are some examples that will surprise you:
• Fungicides and pesticides — Cause many types of cancers and birth defects.
• Cadmium — Linked to lung and prostate cancer.
• Benzene — Linked to leukemia.
• Formaldehyde — Linked to lung cancer.
• Nickel — Causes increased susceptibility to lung infections.
If you are angry that so many things have been added to the cigarettes you enjoy so much, you should be. Many of these chemicals were added to make you better able to tolerate toxic amounts of cigarette smoke. They were added without regard to your health and with the intent to keep you addicted. As the tobacco industry saying goes, “An addicted customer is a customer for life, no matter how short that life is.”
If Big Pharma gets its hands on cannabis we may see the same thing happen and this is worrisome.
Monsanto now appears to be developing genetically modified (GMO) forms of cannabis, with the intent of cornering the market with patented GMO seeds just as it did with GMO corn and GMO soybeans. For that, the plant would need to be legalized but still tightly enough controlled that it could be captured by big corporate interests. Competition could be suppressed by limiting access to homegrown marijuana; bringing production, sale and use within monitored and regulated industry guidelines; and legislating a definition of industrial hemp as a plant having such low psychoactivity that only GMO versions qualify.
Those are the sorts of conditions that critics have found buried in the fine print of the latest initiatives for cannabis legalization.
Patients who use the cannabis plant in large quantities to heal serious diseases find that the natural plant grown organically in sunlight is far more effective than hothouse plants or pharmaceutical cannabis derivatives.
Monsanto has denied that it is working on GMO strains of this Frankenweed, however, William Engdahl, author of “Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation,” presents compelling circumstantial evidence to the contrary.
In a March 2014 article titled “The Connection Between the Legalization of Marijuana in Uruguay, Monsanto and George Soros”, Engdahl observes that in 2014, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana. Soros is a major player in Uruguay and was instrumental in getting the law passed. He sits on the board of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the world’s most influential organization for cannabis legalization. The DPA is active not only in the US but in Uruguay and other Latin American countries. Engdahl writes:
“Studies show that Monsanto without much fanfare conducts research projects on the active ingredient in marijuana, namely THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), in order to genetically manipulate the plant. David Watson of the Dutch company, Hortapharm, has since 1990 created the world’s largest collection of Cannabis seed varieties. In 1998, the British firm GW Pharmaceuticals signed an agreement with Hortapharm that gives GW Pharma the rights to use the Hortapharm cannabis for their research.
In 2003, the German Bayer AG then signed an agreement with GW Pharmaceuticals for joint research on a cannabis-based extract. In 2007, Bayer AG agreed to an exchange of technology with Monsanto, which has discreet access to the work of the cannabis plant and its genetic modification. In 2009, GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it had succeeded in genetically altering a cannabis plant and patented a new breed of cannabis.”
In March 2016, Monsanto approached Bayer AG with a joint venture proposal concerning its crop science unit. Monsanto’s proposed merger with Bayer is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2018, but only if it gets the green light from antitrust authorities.
The prospective merger would create the world’s largest supplier of seeds and chemicals. Environmentalists worry that the entire farming industry could soon be looking at sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides. Monsanto has sued hundreds of farmers for simply saving seeds from year to year, something they have done for millennia. Organic farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to prevent contamination of their crops by Monsanto’s GMOs.
So now, genetic engineering is now moving from foodstuffs to plant-based drugs and plant-based industrial fibers.
Now you see why Monsanto’s merger with Bayer AG is so important.
In Seeds of Destruction, details of what is happening with Monsanto and their growing operations are very intriguing.
Since the cultivation of cannabis plants in Uruguay is allowed, one can easily imagine that Monsanto sees a huge new market that the Group is able to control just with patented cannabis seeds such as today is happening on the market for soybeans. Uruguay’s President Mujica has made it clear he wants a unique genetic code for cannabis in his country in order to “keep the black market under control.”
Genetically modified cannabis seeds from Monsanto would grant such control. For decades Monsanto has been growing gene-soybean and GM maize in Uruguay too. George Soros is co-owner of agribusinesses Adecoagro, which planted genetically modified soybeans and sunflowers for biofuel.
Within three years the cannabis industry is predicted to generate over 13 billion dollars becoming one of the largest agricultural markets in the nation.
The Bayer-Monsanto enterprise likely wouldn’t launch a cannabis product until federal prohibition is lifted. It’s the same reason Big Tobacco hasn’t completely taken over cannabis, despite a decades-old interest in doing so: Massive corporations need massive volume sales, which, in the case of cannabis, is hard to do without a fully open national marketplace.
So there should be little to no doubt that companies like Monsanto and Bayer will lobby the government to change its current Schedule I classification for marijuana as it can guarantee heavy control.
The next stage in continuing control of cannabis is in the regulation, licensing and taxation of Cannabis cultivation and use through the only practical means available to the corporate system, which is through genetic engineering and patenting of the cannabis genome.
Even if the Feds legalized cannabis tomorrow, a Bayer-Monsanto mega-corporation probably won’t result in any retail cannabis products for some time. It’s true that Bayer has already partnered with pharmaceutical firms that are doing trials of cannabis drugs. Also, Monsanto may be less than candid when it says it hasn’t yet tinkered with cannabis’s genetics.
But however far along their respective cannabis research efforts are, turning research into commercial product takes years, especially in a market as heavily regulated and politically fragmented as cannabis will continue to be.
When it comes to the rise of Big Marijuana, a Bayer-Monsanto merger would merely add to a process that is already well underway. The seed and drug industries are hardly the first mainstream sectors to try to colonize cannabis.
Since the start of state legalization, nearly every outside industry with conceivable cannabis play; tobacco of course, but also food and beverage, clothing, health and wellness, tourism, and Silicon Valley venture capital, has been scrambling to bring the cannabis sector out of the margins and into the mainstream.
More to the point, as the cannabis community itself has matured, it has been moving incrementally toward a business model that, if one didn’t know better, looks surprisingly corporate.
Some day, Marijuana users will look back at the good old days and ask themselves why they even allowed the market to create a Frankenweed corporate monster.