• November 26, 2020

No, Working in the Cannabis Industry is not “Disgusting”

 No, Working in the Cannabis Industry is not “Disgusting”

Tucker Carlson recently bemoaned the “disgusting” work of former House Speaker John Boehner on Breitbart’s SiriusXM radio show. 

In 2018, Boehner joined the board of advisors for Acreage Holdings, a vertically integrated multi-state cannabis company. Boehner’s new role marked a complete 180 transition from his staunchly anti-marijuana past. So is Tucker Carlson upset about the evolution of John Boehner, who once asserted that he was “unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana?” Boehner is now singing the plant’s praises. Is it the fact that Boehner sees financial gain in this new industry, while those left behind by the failed war on drugs continue to suffer? Of course not. Like many opposed to marijuana legalization, Tucker Carlson is focusing his ire on John Boehner and the cannabis industry on behalf of America’s youth.

“John Boehner is like a marijuana lobbyist now, right?” Carlson said. “Waking up every morning taking a paycheck getting your kids to smoke more weed? Why isn’t John Boehner considered disgusting? I consider John Boehner disgusting. Why don’t most Republicans think that? You go from being Speaker of the House to being a weed lobbyist and nobody says anything? Like, that’s totally normal?”

Carlson’s assertion that Boehner is “taking a paycheck getting your kids to smoke more weed” demonstrates a truly disgusting ignorance of facts. Studies have shown time and again that youth consumption of marijuana has not increased over time in reaction to legalization efforts. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank recently published an analysis of the Colorado marijuana market, and its authors noted that rates of youth consumption have “recently dropped below pre-legalization levels.” The most recent data from Colorado’s biennial Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, which tracks youth behavioral health data, shows that in Colorado, where marijuana is legal, youth are trying marijuana at the exact same rate as the national average. This implies that the legal market is not leading kids “to smoke more weed,” as Carlson is asserting. 

Source: Healthy Kids Colorado 2017, Data Brief
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

It also bears repeating that the regulated marijuana market places restrictions on marketing, packaging, and sales that are specifically in place to prevent youth consumption. In states with legal cannabis markets, advertising rules vary state to state, but a common regulation in many states is that advertising is generally limited to media that is consumed by an adult audience. Packaging in regulated markets is also specifically designed to prevent youth consumption, as products are required to be childproof and clearly marked as a product that is “not for children.” Finally, the legal age to purchase marijuana in any state with a legal market is 21, and a recent study performed by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs concluded that marijuana shops are very likely to refuse service to minors. The children are protected in the legal marijuana market, despite Carlson’s claims to the contrary. 

John Boehner’s entrance to the cannabis space suggests an evolution that many current and former elected officials are undergoing. Tucker Carlson simply can’t wrap his brain around the fact that the “experiment” has been an overwhelming success, which is causing some current and former elected officials to rethink their approach.  

To answer Tucker Carlson’s question, “Really John Boehner—are you making America better, pig?” Boehner isn’t likely making America better or worse through his work in the cannabis industry. But he has clearly evaluated his past positions and realized that it was time to rethink the issue. We would encourage Tucker Carlson to utilize the same informed approach in discussing this new industry. 

Penelope Komes

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