When it comes down to it, corporations have just one purpose: turn a large profit for shareholders. So it should come as no surprise that corporate America has turned its eye toward the wildly successful recreational cannabis movement. In 2015 alone, legal pot sales in the United States jumped 17% to $5.4 billion and are expected to grow 25% this year — an estimated $6.7 billion in U.S. sales. And, of course, corporate interests want their share.
But it’s not simply a modern day gold rush, many feel there is an underlying agenda at hand — with a few very wealthy individuals pulling the strings.
Exploding cannabis market
The numbers behind legalized pot sales are astonishing considering the first recreational dispensaries opened for business in Colorado a mere two years ago. And this is only the beginning.
According to ArcView Market Research, the legal cannabis market will be worth a staggering $21.8 billion total sales by 2020. To put this in perspective, when the legalized marijuana market hits that point, it will surpass the National Football League, which is estimated to reach $25 billion by 2027.
“I think that we are going to see in 2016 this next wave of investors, the next wave of business operators, and people who’ve sort of been watching or dipping their toe in, really starting to swing for the fences and take it really seriously,” said ArcView CEO Troy Dayton.
Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana to date, with a total 23 states having legalized medical marijuana. A half dozen additional states are considering opening up legalized recreational use with ballot measures in autumn 2016. California is one state that is being watched with great anticipation, where a large portion of the total industry is accounted for with medical marijuana sales. If the state legalizes recreational marijuana this November, the sky is the limit for industry sales. Add to this the revamping of recreational cannabis legislation in Colorado, Oregon and Washington — which will allow investors from around the U.S. to finance the legal marijuana industry — and it’s no wonder corporate heavy hitters are attentive.
But it’s not all glory for the movement, there are those who feel there’s a hidden agenda, one that is controlled by corporate interests and a few exceptionally wealthy individuals who have ties to the biotech industry and Big Pharma.
Hidden motives for legalized cannabis
Portrayed as a grassroots movement, you may not realize that the driving force behind legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana is none other than billionaire George Soros. Along with a cadre of other wealthy donors, Soros has spent at least $80 million in the quest of legalizing cannabis. Through his Foundation to Promote an Open Society, he has funneled donations to the Drug Policy Alliance — a non-profit organization with “the principal goal of ending the American “War on Drugs.”’ He’s also donates annually to the American Civil Liberties Union, an organization which funds marijuana legalization efforts, and gives to the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports state ballot measures.
In the official paper, DEA Position on Marijuana, the agency points out that “a few wealthy businessmen — not broad grassroots support — started and sustain the ‘medical’ marijuana and drug legalization movements in the U.S. Without their money and influence, the drug legalization movement would shrivel.”
Moreover, Soros was instrumental in Uruguay becoming the first country to legalize cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana. He sits on the board of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) — the world’s most powerful organization regarding the legalization of marijuana. The DPA is not only extremely influential in the United States, but also in Uruguay and other Latin American countries.
George Soros appears to be a hero of the cannabis movement — helping states (and even an entire country) pass legislation for medical and recreational use. But he also has strong ties with the pharmaceutical industry and Monsanto as a major stock holder — the same chemical corporation and biotech giant that developed Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, toxic pesticides, rBGH, Roundup Ready and genetically engineered Frankenfoods. While the widely circulated urban myth that Monsanto is currently developing genetically modified cannabis is false, if you dig a bit deeper, it turns out the corporation quietly conducts research projects on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana for the apparent purpose of genetically modifying the plant at a future date.
Writes William Engdahl, author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation:
“David Watson of the Dutch company Hortapharm has since 1990 created the world’s largest collection of Cannabis seed varieties. In 1998, the British firm GW Pharmaceuticals signed an agreement with Hortapharm that gives GW Pharma the rights to use the Hortapharm cannabis for their research.
In 2003 the German Bayer AG then signed an agreement with GW Pharmaceuticals for joint research on a cannabis-based extract. In 2007, Bayer AG agreed to an exchange of technology with… Monsanto. […] Thus Monsanto has discreet access to the work of the cannabis plant and its genetic modification. In 2009 GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it had succeeded in genetically altering a cannabis plant and patented a new breed of cannabis.”
Engdahl believes it doesn’t take a large stretch of the imagination to see that Monsanto could very well be laying the groundwork for a future controlling patented cannabis seeds, especially since Uruguay’s president Mujica has expressed a desire to create unique genetic codes for marijuana within his country in order to undermine the blackmarket. Monsanto could easily step in and accommodate Mujica’s wish, considering the history the biotech corporation has had in Uruguay over the decades growing GMO soybeans and maize.
Back in the United States, it’s interesting to note that the criminalization of both industrial hemp and marijuana has been financially lucrative for a range of industries, like the prison system and military-industrial complex, along with the banking, fossil fuel, timber, cotton and pharmaceutical industries. In light of this, Conrad Justice Kiczenski warns:
“The next stage in continuing this control is in the regulation, licensing and taxation of Cannabis cultivation and use through the only practical means available to the corporate system, which is through genetic engineering and patenting of the Cannabis genome.”