Willie Nelson is undoubtedly one of the cannabis gods. He’s right up there next to Snoop Dogg and Cheech and Chong. Willie doesn’t just smoke the stuff though, he’s been a cannabis political rights activists for decades at this point. Willie is already a ripe 82 years of age and in that time he’s smoked a few lifetimes worth of the plant he loves so much. Willy has spent much of his life fighting for the legalization of both medicinal and recreational marijuana, but just as his lifelong goals seem to be coming to fruition, Willie foresees another battle approaching on the horizon. With the rapid legalization of both medicinal and recreational marijuana that we’re seeing in this country, there have been a mass amount of big investors trying to get a piece of the pie. Willie Nelson is concerned that these financial powers will undo much of the personal liberation that his movement was about and replace it with the cannabis version of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma.
He’s not the only one concerned about this very real problem, however. A race is definitely on to establish the first national marijuana brand and these investors are bringing some serious cash to the table. Privateer Holdings, for example, may be the most likely winner of this race as they have already managed to persuade Bob Marley’s family to license his name and image for their brand and have over $82 million dollars in startup money behind them. Privateer Holdings was founded by three Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Jamen Shively is another big player in the national cannabis race. Shively has taken a different approach, by purchasing tons of real estate for what he plans to eventually turn into the starbucks of marijuana. He has gone as far to identify himself as Big Marijuana in an interview. I don’t understand why anyone would willingly admit to having such a heinous plan, but this is all the more reason that Willie is right about what’s coming.
Cannabis legalization was largely based around social justice for poor communities that were affected disproportionately by the drug war, but Big Cannabis would just make the rich richer while leaving these communities feeling less than liberated. Ohio is currently pushing for legalization with a strong chance of success, but many of those against the initiative oppose it because of the monopoly on the industry that it would cause. The new law proposed would only permit ten large producers to operate in the state. These money hungry investors aren’t just bad for business, but also as the regulations for marijuana are still in their infancy in most place, these companies are taking less than ethical routes in their production. Many of the investors are using pesticides on their giant grow operations that smaller grows don’t need. The next few years will be vital in regulating and controlling businesses from monopolizing the industry, but with leaders like Willie Nelson there might just be a chance to stop Big Cannabis before it’s too late.