Lynch: 2024 and the cannabis industry

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, January 25, 2024

Season’s greetings and Happy New Year!

As I write this, Niles recently finished one of its coldest winter blasts in several years, -8 degrees as a daytime high, yikes!

Reflecting on the current state of the cannabis industry prompts me to recall how this crazy, mixed-up situation actually began, and how its despicable rules/laws still resonate with 25-30 percent of the population in the USA. As of today, 24 states and Washington DC, the Virgin Islands, and Guam have legalized adult-use cannabis. Nineteen states either have Medical Cannabis Programs or allow for CBD sales, and two states have fully decriminalized cannabis possession. Only in four states are all forms of cannabis 100 percent illegal (South Carolina, Kansas, Wyoming and Idaho). 

Why is it that some folks – and especially our federal government – continue to be skeptical and obstinately object to the full legalization of a natural plant? Most current anti-cannabis objections can actually be traced back to three very familiar names in our nation’s history: John D. Rockefeller, Pierre DuPont, and William Randolph Hearst. You might wonder what two famous industrialists and the biggest name in publishing/printing have to do with the laws and regulations governing cannabis for almost the last 100 years–well a hell of a lot!

It started with greed and was perpetrated by corruption and the backroom dealings of our nation’s storied “gentry elite,” and their desire for unimaginable wealth and domination of the working classes. Let’s start with good ol’ J.D. and Pierre. As history has told us, J.D. Rockefeller was the pinnacle of the elite class at the turn of the twentieth century. After starting Standard Oil (now Mobil/Chevron), he became not only the wealthiest man in America, but one of the richest in the entire world. To further his financial dominance in the early 1920s, he found a new friend in Mr. DuPont who had recently discovered “petroleum based” pharmaceuticals. What better way to expand his oil empire than to use it to make drugs! Following the classic pattern of the privileged gentrified elite who live as if “no rules or morals apply to me,” Rockefeller conspired with DuPont to pull off one of the “biggest cons” of the twentieth century. 

In order to truly dominate and control the US Drug Market, the two men had to remove one major obstacle. (I bet you’re catching on by now.) Before I reveal their dastardly scheme, I must first help you remember what the pharmaceutical/drug market consisted of before DuPont’s “revolutionizing” discovery. At the turn of the century, there were hardly any remedies for illnesses. Think back–no penicillin, no antibiotics, no Percocet, not even aspirin. Most drugs at the turn of the century were age-old recipes for tinctures, solutions, or potions that had been improved and passed down from generation to generation. Most if not all of this “medicine” was plant based. There was no FDA, CDC, or other government agency to regulate or control these products; however, the American Medical Association did exist at that time. The AMA controlled drug development and “blessed” any new drug’s acceptance into the medical community. Now you see J.D. and Pierre’s big problem: age-old natural remedies that the AMA had “blessed and sanctioned for use”, including cannabis, were in direct competition with DuPont’s petroleum-based pharmaceuticals. 

Our two “conspirators,” as any great conniving duo would, used their mega-rich status and insider influence to “cancel” all homeopathic natural plant derived drugs from the market. They campaigned heavily against traditional medicines, calling all natural drugs “quackery.” They spread conspiracy theories. They bombarded the AMA with made-up horror stories about long accepted and used natural drugs. 

At this point, a third conspirator joins J.D. and Pierre: William Randolph Hearst (and he is the worst of the bunch for cannabis at least). You will remember that Mr. Hurst pretty much owned or heavily influenced the entire U.S. publishing industry. He also owned/controlled a major part of the timber industry in the northwest (this control will come into clearer view in a later part of this story). J.D. and Pierre needed a way to spread the word that petroleum-based drugs were a revolution for the future, and at the same time create a belief that natural remedies were untested foolishness that hurt people rather than help them. This approach worked. By the early 1930s most of the tried and true, age-old remedies, tinctures, salves and tonics were off pharmacy shelves and replaced by the dynamic duo’s “malpractice.” 

So there you have it. The malfeasance that was perpetrated by these billionaire tycoons resonates in some of the worst ways in today’s society. Opioids and fentanyl, while technically nature-based (opium), are actually synthetic, petroleum-based drugs. We can all agree that J.D. and Pierre’s petroleum-based products have saved millions of lives and are necessary for medical uses. Yet, because of the false binary that was set up by these three men, research has been “either or” instead of “both and.” In service of Rockefeller, DuPont, and Hurst’s bank accounts, natural plant derived drugs ceased to be extensively developed, studied, or improved upon. Cannabis in particular had been neglected.

Imagine if cannabis had been studied for the past 10 decades instead of vilified by the Super Elite and Privileged Class of the 20th Century. We are now just seeing the first real studies coming out about the benefits of cannabis. What they are finding is only the tip of the iceberg: relief for pain, Parkinson’s, asthma, dementia, heart issues, insomnia, anxiety, and depression, and aids for appetite enhancement/suppression, and more and more every month. Cannabis, weed, pot, marijuana, grass, whatever you call it, was never given a chance to show its benefits to society. Hopefully in the near future the 25 to 30 percent of the population and in government, who continue to obstruct the evolution of this very important plant will wake up and smell the “dank.”

Oh yeah –I promised to tell you more about good ole’ William Randolph Hurst. As he was another master of corruption, he took a page out of the Rockefeller & DuPont playbook and saw a path to total domination of his two industries: publishing and timber. Since Hurst controlled a major portion of the print industry, he realized he could totally control the industry by dominating the industry that produces the product printing requires: wood pulp. Everyone needs to remember this is the 1930’s – no internet, no social media, no TV – just printed materials and radio! As J.D. and Pierre had found earlier, hemp (cannabis) was also a problem for Mr. Hearst . Hemp was a cheaper and better alternative to wood pulp-based paper, but Hearst  couldn’t control hemp production in the U.S. So, what could a ruthless industry titan do? Again, as J.D. and Pierre had learned, Hearst needed to kill hemp (cannabis) as a rival. For brevity’s sake I won’t go into all of the gory details, but the result of his efforts was the Cannabis/Hemp Tax Act of 1937, which effectively made all hemp and cannabis illegal in the U.S. 

It’s not very hard to imagine how these very powerful and unscrupulous “businessmen” could change the course of modern medicine with their riches and political influence. It is also easy to see how many lives have been destroyed due to their tyrannical greed and thirst for power. It should also be obvious to that stubborn 25 to 30 percent of the population who just can’t see the forest through the trees. This is the 21st century and that good ole boy, backroom dealings of a century ago was just that another manipulation of the working class by the gentrified elite. They need to wake up and realize that they have been hoodwinked, again!