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Rob Kampia Headshot

Three Myths About the Marijuana Lobby

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Now that support for making marijuana legal has reached 58 percent nationwide, according to the prestigious Gallup organization, opponents of marijuana legalization are now trotting out arguments that were only used in impolite company years ago.

Let's review the arguments of prohibitionists who are squirming right now, because they'll soon be out of jobs. (I'll also soon be out of a job, but I've been working toward this goal for 20 years. On the other hand, some law enforcement officials, drug-treatment professionals, and anti-marijuana advocates actually want to keep their jobs forever.)

Myth #1: Drug cartels support legalization efforts.

As the leader of the largest marijuana-legalization organization in the world, I can attest that my organization doesn't receive money from cartels in Colombia, Mexico, or elsewhere. In my two decades of working on this issue, I have never seen or heard of any organization gaining their support.

I'm willing to testify under oath on this question. Are prohibitionists such as Carla Lowe -- seen here claiming marijuana legalization is "driven by multi-big billions of dollars from the drug cartels" -- willing to testify under oath on the same question? I doubt it, because it's easier to throw barbs than to speak the truth.

In any case, it wouldn't actually make sense for drug cartels to fund legalization in the United States, because legalization would undercut their profits. (For example, did Al Capone fund efforts to legalize alcohol in the U.S. in the 1920s?)

The simple fact is that marijuana legalization in the U.S. would seriously detract from the profits of drug cartels inside and outside the U.S.

Myth #2: The marijuana industry will market to minors.

Prohibitionists within government and the private sector have built their careers saying that legalizing marijuana would increase teen access to marijuana. Putting it another way, prohibitionists have sacrificed nonviolent adults on the altar of ostensibly protecting children.

Setting aside the question of whether marijuana legalization would actually increase teen access to marijuana -- it would not, according to the latest research -- could it really be true that the emerging marijuana industry would actually want to market marijuana to teens?

The answer is no. While there might be a few marijuana opportunists out there -- just as there are in any industry -- anyone who wants to make real money selling marijuana to adults would need to create a firewall between adults and minors, in the same way that liquor stores don't want to risk their liquor licenses by selling alcohol to minors.

Illegal drug dealers don't ask for ID, but alcohol dealers really do require proof of age.

Myth #3: The marijuana industry is the next "Big Tobacco."

There's one small marijuana company in Seattle that has been claiming to be "Big Marijuana" as a way of drawing investor attention to that company, but it hasn't worked, which I'm happy to report.

When we think about what "Big Marijuana" would look like, it would probably include lots of advertising and lots of profits.

In regard to advertising restrictions, we already know some obvious things, including that flyers cannot be placed under the windshield wipers of cars in high school parking lots and other shenanigans that any reasonable adult would oppose. In other words, we all agree with some advertising restrictions. In fact, it was members of the medical marijuana business community in Colorado who spearheaded a push for a ban on certain types of outdoor advertising.

In regard to profits, it's okay if marijuana businesses make profits, just as it's okay for bars, restaurants, and other alcohol businesses to make profits.

The accusation of "Big Tobacco" is just the new way of scaring mainstream voters who are actually okay with marijuana stores here and there.

It's important for all of us to keep our eye on the prize by agreeing that marijuana should be legal for people 21 and older; we'll put cartels and gangs out of business, and we'll have reasonable restrictions on advertising.

None of this is new. Anyone who believes that alcohol should be legal should also agree that marijuana should be legal.

This is simple for most of us to understand. The only people who are trying to confuse it are those who are making profits from marijuana prohibition -- international drug cartels and, unfortunately, so-called anti-drug nonprofit organizations in the U.S.

Shame on them.