Adolphus Busch IV, the heir to the Anheuser-Busch beer fortune, is attempting to rally support for an initiative to legalize medical marijuana throughout the state of Missouri.
Earlier last week, Busch, the great-grandson of the Anheuser-Busch founder, reportedly fired off a letter to dozens of people encouraging them to tender their support for a ballot initiative aimed at establishing a comprehensive medical marijuana program in 2018.
The letter, which was written in support of the New Approach Missouri campaign, called for citizens to cough up monetary donations to keep the movement alive, as well as asked them to sign the petition that could possibly allow the issue to go before voters in next year’s election.
New Approach Missouri, formerly advocating for the reform of marijuana laws under the moniker Show-Me Cannabis, has been pushing to legalize marijuana in Missouri for the past several years. The group’s original plan was designed to bring an end to marijuana prohibition entirely, similar to how it has been done in eight other states, but it switched gears in 2015 after a poll showed widespread support for medicinal use.
Although around 70 percent of state’s voters support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use, there have been plenty of obstacles keeping this concept from becoming a reality.
In 2016, despite the organization having a relatively decent chance at getting its medical marijuana initiative added to the ballot, a Missouri judge disqualified thousands of voter signatures, preventing the voters from having the opportunity to decide.
As of September, New Approach has collected 63,000 voter signatures—about a quarter of what is needed to qualify the medical marijuana initiative for next year’s election.
Marijuana advocates across the state have argued that Missouri might stand a better chance at putting the leash on its opioid problem if medical marijuana was offered as alternative treatment.
In fact, Busch’s letter points to recent evidence showing a 25 percent decrease in overdose deaths in states with medical marijuana laws on the books.
But the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA), which has been lobbying against alcohol, tobacco and other drugs since 1965, says it is disturbed that a man who made millions of dollars peddling popular beers, like Budweiser, is now supporting marijuana legalization.
“One of the largest concerns is who it’s coming from. This is someone who benefitted from the profits of the alcohol industry,” the NCADA’s Stacie Zellin told Fox News, adding that New Approach’s medical marijuana initiative is a far cry far from anything related to the medical field.
“You go into a dispensary. You don’t go into a pharmacy. This is also not prescribed to you by a doctor. You get a note that it is recommended to you…then when you do walk into a dispensary, there isn’t that reliability in terms of product you’re getting, in terms of dosage, or what the different chemicals are in it…that’s a huge problem we’re seeing out in Colorado,” she said.
Anheuser-Busch was acquired by Belgium brewery InBev during a hostile takeover in 2008. The company was acquired for $52 billion in cash.
But Mr. Busch has not, at least not so far, ditched his experience in the alcohol trade for legal weed.
A report from Fox News indicates that Busch does not stand to benefit financially if Missouri legalizes marijuana next year.
Busch made headlines in 2013, when he resigned as a lifetime member the National Rifle Association (NRA), the day after the U.S. Senate failed to pass a bill that would have required additional background checks.
“I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable,” he wrote in a letter. “The NRA appears to have evolved into the lobby for gun and ammunition manufacturers rather than gun owners.”