Why Big Tobacco Taking Over Marijuana Is a Stupid Scare

This scare dates back to the 1970s and, like most urban legends, has some kernels of truth to it.

Indeed, perusing through some of the most recently released documents from Big Tobacco lawsuits has shown that in the 1970s, companies like R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris were investigating how they would profit from a world of legalized marijuana. Nobody has found any land deeds in Northern California belonging to these corporations, but lack of that proof hasn’t stopped the legend.

In fact, the scare is so effective it has been co-opted by Kevin Sabet and Project SAM in their “Big Marijuana” pitch, one of the few pieces of rhetoric that appeals to both pro- and anti-marijuana voters.

I’m here to tell you it’s a ridiculous scare that should be shut down every time it is uttered.

First of all, keep in mind that as long as marijuana is federally illegal, no big multi-national corporation is going to touch it for fear of federal seizure and federal criminal court. Big Tobacco isn’t hurting for profits, even with the stark decline in U.S. smoking habits. Big Tobacco is currently cleaning up in Indonesia and is betting on new e-cigarette delivery devices to improve its bottom line.

But let’s pretend marijuana is suddenly made federally legal in all 50 states. It’s still an open question whether Big Tobacco will get in on the ganja game. Yes, they have the facilities to roll, package, market and sell tobacco cigarettes, but marijuana will force them to invest in research and development of new large-scale processing for pot. Tobacco’s a leaf; marijuana’s a flower. There will be some differences to account for in processing.

But let’s pretend they do, and Big Tobacco buys up acres of land and starts producing the “Bud Light” of weed. It’s cheap and easily accessible, maybe not the worst weed you’ve ever smoked but far from the best. It’s got god-knows-what sprayed on it from seedling to harvest, but they assure you it is perfectly safe.

Are you going to smoke that shit? Do you know anybody who would smoke that shit? I’m not smoking that shit!

Maybe some people will smoke that shit, but these days, some people smoke Mexican brickweed. How is Big Tobacco flooding the market with shitty weed any different than the Mexican cartels doing the same? I mean, aside from the fact that Big Tobacco will sell it in stores, cops won’t arrest you for buying it and 100,000 Mexicans weren’t slaughtered by Big Tobacco’s gunfire?

The ultimate answer to the “Big Marijuana” scare is that it’s hard to manufacture demand for a shitty product. Whether it is your local stoner warning about Big Tobacco’s mass produced weed or Kevin Sabet warning that Mexican cartels will shift their production and trafficking to cocaine, meth and heroin, the simple response is “And who’s going to buy that?”

We’ve had 80 years of the federal government using guns and prisons to force us to stop growing and selling really exceptional weed. It’s never worked. How is a mega corporation using advertising and volume going to force us to stop growing and selling exceptional weed? It’s not becoming any more illegal to grow your own or buy it from your source ,and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for cops to catch you doing it.

So stop playing into Kevin Sabet’s fear mongering by echoing his talking points about Big Tobacco companies. We overgrew state and federal prohibition, we are overgrowing Mexican cartels, and we will overgrow corporate attempts to monopolize marijuana.

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