The Top Five Special Interest Groups Lobbying To Keep Marijuana Illegal

Last year, over 850,000 people in America were arrested for marijuana-related crimes. Despite public opinion, the medical community, and human rights experts all moving in favor of relaxing marijuana prohibition laws, little has changed in terms of policy.

There have been many great books and articles detailing the history of the drug war. Part of America’s fixation with keeping the leafy green plant illegal is rooted in cultural and political clashes from the past.

However, we at Republic Report think it’s worth showing that there are entrenched interest groups that are spending large sums of money to keep our broken drug laws on the books:

1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.

2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.

3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.

4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”

RELATED: Why Can’t You Smoke Pot? Because Lobbyists Are Getting Rich Off of the War on Drugs

This legislation could kill off credit unions for good.

We can’t let big banks get away with this.

Bad feelings over the bailouts and extortionary bank fees have driven millions of Americans into the arms of local credit unions. But instead of luring them back with better customer service, Big Banks are using their lobbying might to kill off credit unions, attempting to destroy a crucial tax exemption that credit unions need to survive.

Big Banks sucked up over a trillion dollars in the bailouts, but now they’re claiming that credit unions are the biggest problem to the national deficit. Banks say that credit unions cost the government $1.5 billion in lost tax revenue, but if the banks get their way, it will cost us over ten billion dollars each year in higher fees and rates.

Congress gets back from recess this week, and banks are about to kick off a big lobbying push for the fall. The banks are trying to kill consumer-friendly credit unions so that they can raise rates with impunity – but we aren’t going to let them.

Tell Bank of America and its cronies to stop their crusade against credit unions.

We can’t afford a future without credit unions. If we show the banks just how much this desperate gamble will backfire, the threat of bad publicity and another banking scandal will cause the banks to rethink their pricy lobbying push. Large-scale protests have forced banks to change their tune before, and once word gets out about the banks’ incredible greed, the backlash should send them packing.

Anytime that regulation is mentioned, bankers like to cry out about free-market principles. But banks use an army of lobbyists to shape legislation as they see fit. This time, they’ve gone too far in trying to take out the competition. If we all step up today, we can stop this in its tracks, and save consumer-friendly credit unions from extinction.

Tell the Big Banks to back off their bullying tactics and stop trying to kill the credit unions.

More Information:

Banks pushing for repeal of credit unions’ federal tax exemption, Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2013
Credit unions fight back against tax repeal efforts, Miami Herald, 8 September 2013

People come from Wall Street and go into government and then leave government and go back into Wall Street. When you have this kind of revolving door, it’s not just that their interests are not well-aligned with the public; it’s that their mindset is captured by the industry from which they come. They see their interest — the interest of Wall Street — as if it were in the public interest.
—  Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz on lobbying. [full interview here]
American-based corporations are giving up their U.S. citizenship and heading abroad for lower taxes and to tap into cash they’ve parked outside the U.S. (Pfizer and Omnicom, both American companies, now want to be a British because of lower rates there; Walgreens may be heading to Europe as well.) I say: Fine, but if you do so you’re no longer American citizens under the First Amendment, and have no right to lobby or bribe American legislators with campaign cash (the Supreme Court said corporations are people, but non-American citizens can’t lobby or make campaign contributions). Congress should enact legislation making this crystal clear. You agree?

Robert Reich

Move out of America, you lose American lobbying rights.

Increasingly, the American public is raising questions about toxic chemicals used in farming, routine antibiotics used in livestock production and genetic engineering in agriculture. The booming organic food business is one sign: Sales of organic food and products in the United States are projected to jump from $35 billion in 2013 to $170 billion in 2025 — a direct threat to the profits of the processed food, animal agriculture and chemical industries engaging in such spin. According to a recent Fortune article, since 2009 the 25 biggest food and beverage companies — selling nonorganic processed and junk food — lost an equivalent of $18 billion in market share. “I would think of them like melting icebergs,” the article quotes Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow as saying. “Every year they become a little less relevant.

In the face of this threat, we argue that the industrial food sector — from the biotech behemoths to the animal agriculture industry — is working overtime to defuse these concerns with well-funded communication efforts and a rash of new front groups. From 2009 to 2013, just 14 of these front groups spent $126 million to shape the story of food while presenting the veneer of independence. There’s the Alliance to Feed the Future, which produces Common Core–vetted curricula on healthy food for public schools. Its members include the Frozen Pizza Institute and the Calorie Control Council, which promotes the benefits of Olestra and saccharin, among other artificial sweeteners and fats. You don’t need to be an expert in food security to be skeptical to take advice about feeding the world from the trade council for fake sugar and fat.

How the Defense Industry Convinced Congress to Militarize Local Cops

August 18th, 2014

The Ferguson, Missouri, police department’s display of armored cars, officers in riot gear, and assault rifles over the past week shocked Americans who didn’t realize how much military equipment is now available to local police departments. But since the 1990’s, more than 8,000 federal, state, tribal, and local police agencies across the country have armed themselves with the military’s excess gear, free of charge. The inventory includes everything from office furniture and first aid kits to aircraft, armored cars, rifles and bayonets, according to the Defense Logistics Agency, the Department of Defense office that manages the transactions under an initiative called Program 1033.

In June, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) introduced an amendment to de-fund aspects of the program. Grayson’s bill would have exempted certain military equipment, including planes and armored cars, from Program 1033. That effort failed; just 62 members of the House of Representatives voted for the measure, with 355 voting no. Maybe the outcome shouldn’t have been a surprise: According to a new analysis of campaign finance data, the politicians who voted against Grayson’s bill received, on average, 73 percent more campaign donations from defense industry sources from 2011 through 2013 than their peers who voted for it. 

The analysis—conducted by the Berkeley-based research group MapLight using data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics—also found that of 59 representatives who received more than $100,000 from the defense industry from 2011 through 2013, all but three voted against the amendment.

TL;TR - The Defense Industry is buying votes by paying millions of dollars to corrupt congress members.

Leaked docs: Blowback over ‘Stand Your Ground’ a crushing blow to ALEC.

Guardian: The Guardian has learned that by ALEC’s own reckoning the network has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years, as well as more than 60 corporations that form the core of its funding. In the first six months of this year it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.

North Carolina Legalizes Call Girls For Politicians

North Carolina Legalizes Call Girls For Politicians

North Carolina’s State Ethics Committee has just opened up a major problem for their state — they just made it legal for lobbying firms to purchase prostitutes to service politicians. The Committee’s determination that sex had no value and that sex between a lobbyist and politician was nothing to report or in any way questionable means that a major loophole has opened up for lobbying firms. Now…

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Instead of ensuring that everyone in America can compete in a global economy, instead of narrowing the divide between rich and poor, instead of supporting competitive free markets for American inventions that use information—instead, that is, of ensuring that America will lead the world in the information age—U.S. politicians have chosen to keep Comcast and its fellow giants happy. The government removed all rules from high-speed Internet access and allowed steep market consolidation in the hope that competition among providers would protect consumers. But that competition has not materialized; the cable industry, whose collusive practices have been largely ignored by regulators, has decisively dominated the wired marketplace and has done its best to foil municipal efforts to provide publicly owned fiber Internet access. As a result, the United States now has neither a competitive market for highspeed wired Internet access nor government oversight.
—  Susan Crawford, Captive Audience

A New Debate on Net Neutrality

It just might cost you more to watch “House of Cards.”
Since a federal court ruled last month that the Federal Communications Commission can no longer enforce its policy of network neutrality, Democratic lawmakers have been busy searching for a way to keep the rules in place through new legislation.

But with the telecommunications lobby’s history of fighting hard against earlier such bills, and the possibility that at least one technology company could change its tune on the subject, the current push will face a difficult slog.

Read more.

Exclusive: Koch Industries Lobbying Europe on Environment, Energy, and Free Trade

Exclusive: Koch Industries Lobbying Europe on Environment, Energy, and Free Trade

Koch Industries, the largest privately owned energy company in the United States, is #lobbying European policymakers on the environment, energy markets and EU free trade agreement negotiations, according to the recently updated Transparency Register set up by the European Commission. The company, known for funding climate denial groups, has declared on the voluntary Register that it… (more…)

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