We are never at a loss for seeing the sheer hypocrisy involved from some who are now profiting from marijuana after fervently opposing legalization for so long.
We’re talking about the privileged and wealthy opportunists (usually older white men) who opposed marijuana legalization until they saw there was money in it for them. Then they were suddenly changing minds on legalization of marijuana.
But an August 17th article from Bruce Barcott, Leafly Senior Editor and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America, allowed us the opportunity to look at this from a more positive perspective.
Meet Lifelong Prohibitionist Tom Price
Barcott found himself in a “philosophical conundrum” in mid-August when prohibitionist Tom Price won the cannabis license lottery.
If the name sounds familiar, you might remember Price as the Georgia Republican who served as Trump’s first ill-fated health secretary for a whole seven months before being ushered out for, among other things, wasting more than a million bucks of taxpayer money flying private jets rather than Delta.
Before that particular disgrace, he served twelve years in Congress doing everything in his power to defeat cannabis legalization. This included voting six times to kill the Congressional budget amendment that would protect patients in medical marijuana states, and three times against allowing Veterans Administration doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients.
Yet, once he left Capitol Hill, Price was suddenly on the board of Botanical Sciences LLC. Nope, it’s not a scientific research company. Rather, it’s a company new to the cannabis space and founded by the head of a chain of Georgia pain clinics with some less than stellar Yelp reviews.
So as you can imagine, Barcott as sickened by the fact that Price was one of just six who received a coveted MMJ license in Georgia.
To Make Matters Worse…
If that weren’t bad enough, one of the rejected MMJ applications came from Allen Peake’s Company. Who’s Allen Peake, you may ask?
Well, Peake risked his career as a former state assembly member, as well as his reputation and freedom, to pass Georgia’s first medical legalization laws.
As Barcott puts it, “while Tom Price enjoyed the perks of high office and turned a deaf ear to the plight of medical marijuana patients, Allen Peake personally delivered CBD oil to desperate parents whose children were afflicted by seizures.”
But it was Price who got the cannabis license.
Inadvertently Changing Minds on Legalization
The whole situation is heinously unjust. It’s difficult to argue that. As cannabis marketing experts who have been in the business since the very early days, we were certainly outraged.
But then Barcott raised an interesting point.
Three years ago in a similar turn of events, Republican Speaker of the House and longtime prohibitionist John Boehner joined the board of Acreage Holdings. This was a guy with an abysmal cannabis voting record. But his entry into the cannabis industry was a red letter day in legalization history.
“Boehner’s move turned the head of every Republican in America. He forced his former colleagues to think twice about legalization,” writes Barcott. “Was he an opportunist? Sure. But he also opened minds. One of those minds may have belonged to Tom Price.”
Such “conversions” are victories for the legalization movement who work tirelessly to gain allies, open minds, and change votes. And as much as it sucks right now, Barcott believes that “in the long game of harm reduction and cannabis legalization, it may ultimately pay off for millions of Americans.”
Still, An Apology Would Be Nice
Nobody is being Pollyanna-ish about the situation.
Barcott knows that guys like Boehner and Price didn’t become suddenly enlightened. There was the hugely motivating factor of the mighty dollar at the helm. This change of heart, or wallet (as Barcott says), doesn’t negate the stultifying damage they caused by actively propping up prohibition and the War on Drugs.
Barcott is in full agreement that folks who are now embracing a more enlightened approach to cannabis legalization needn’t be shamed or shunned. This won’t help matters. But it’s not, as he says, unreasonable to ask for atonement. It’s also obvious that we must double down on the fight for equity in the cannabis industry.
What made Barcott’s article so relevant is his previous stance on cannabis legalization. Where he once indulged the harmful stigmas and stereotypes that beat down the legalization movement, he has now written a book about his own conversion:
For decades, I was wrong about marijuana. I perpetuated the harm of the War on Drugs, including the racism and mass incarceration. My own enlightenment didn’t wash away my past actions. But I’m acknowledging them and working to make things better.
Tom Price doesn’t have to write a whole book about his change of heart on marijuana. But we do need to hear from him. It’s time to speak, Tom, honestly and openly, about your past position and the process that led you to join the board of Botanical Sciences.
It’s the least you can do. And it must be done.
Makes perfect sense to us.
We Applaud Bruce Barcott
We’re so grateful to folks like Barcott who are changing minds on legalization of marijuana. But we’re equally grateful to him for giving us a new perspective.
In this politically divisive climate, it’s too easy to feel hatred, disgust, and disdain for hypocrisy. Barcott allowed us a glimpse at the potential silver lining. And these days, that’s gold.
Speaking of which, if your cannabis business revenues are less than golden, contact us today. It could be time to reconfigure your marketing strategies.