Disingenuous critiques of ‘Big Marijuana’

Samuel T. Wilkinson from the Yale School of Medicine blindly follows the S.A.M. playbook in The marijuana industry is following the trail blazed by Big Tobacco.

Kevin Sabet’s crew keeps pushing this narrative as if it were an actual legitimate argument instead of an insincere ploy to scare people without cause.

In the late 19th century, the landscape of tobacco consumption was very different than it is today. Tobacco use was much less prevalent, and cigarettes accounted for a tiny portion of consumption. Yet by the mid-20th century almost half of U.S. adults smoked, with major consequences for public health. Despite important health policy achievements since, cigarette smoking remains a major contributor to the top causes of death in the United States, including cardiovascular and lung diseases, as well as cancer. […]

Alarmingly, marijuana businesses are now mimicking many of Big Tobacco’s successful strategies.

Guess what? Cannabis isn’t tobacco, and the 21st Century isn’t the 20th century. Scientific knowledge has changed, political realities have changed, social awareness has changed, so any comparison between big tobacco then and “big marijuana” now is unfounded, plus… cannabis isn’t tobacco.

If we are intent on legalizing marijuana for recreational use, lessons from the tobacco industry and the Dutch marijuana experiment suggest that we do so in a way that does not pit corporate incentives against the interests of public health. Similar to efforts in Uruguay, production and distribution should be done solely by the government so as to ensure that there is no corporate incentive to entice more people to consume marijuana in larger quantities.

This is also disingenuous. Wilkinson and the S.A.M. clones know full well that government-run distribution is impossible at this stage, in part because of opposition from people just like them. Not one of these folks has seriously suggested reform that would allow a government regulated approach, but rather use it as a fake argument to forestall legalization.

The reason that commercial entrepreneurship is the model for marijuana legalization today is because it is the only model that is possible in the face of federal obstructionism.

If Wilkinson and Sabet want to complain about the commercial market, then they should be complaining about federal interference with state options.

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