Who Opposes Cannabis and Why (Part 2)

Written By Luke Burgess

Updated April 19, 2020

Generally speaking, organizations that still oppose cannabis legalization include:

  • Pharmaceutical companies and trade groups
  • Police, police unions, and law enforcement associations
  • Companies that operate prisons
  • Religious organizations
  • A whole list of government agencies
  • Casinos
  • Addiction services groups
  • Right-wing political organizations ranging from conservative think tanks to the American Nazi Party

Last week, in the first of a two-part series, I discussed why the first two groups on this list oppose legalization. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

Today we’re going further down that list, starting with…

Companies That Operate Prisons

You already know why companies that operate prisons lobby to keep marijuana illegal.

I don’t have to tell you companies like CoreCivic (NYSE: CXW), formerly the Corrections Corporation of America, and The GEO Group (NYSE: GEO) profit more with more prisoners.

The ACLU says that across the nation, 7,000,000 Americans were arrested for weed from 2001 to 2010. That’s all profit for prison companies.

Like Big Pharma, the corrections industry doesn’t oppose the legalization of marijuana because of any social, economic, or health concerns. It’s only about the money for them.

And like Big Pharma, they’re willing to trample on your freedom for a dollar.

Religious Organizations

Many churches and religious organizations also support cannabis prohibition. Organizations known to openly contest legalization include:

  • Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston
  • Youth Challenge International
  • Woman’s Christian Temperance Union
  • The Gospel Coalition
  • Thousands of individual churches across the nation

So what does it say in the Bible about cannabis?


How about in the Quran?

Nope. Nothing there, either.

Neither of these books mentions marijuana even once.

Prior to legalization, Christians most often pointed to Romans 13:1-2 as evidence smoking weed is a mortal sin. But that passage is about submission to government.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. — Romans 13:1-2 (KJV)

In other words, the message here is: God requires you to submit to governing authorities, regardless of circumstance, because God is the one who put the authorities in power. And consequently, whoever rebels against the government is rebelling against God.

I suppose that means our Founding Fathers, who did in fact rebel against the governing authorities of the British, committed mortal sin and “shall receive to themselves damnation.” But I digress.

Nevertheless, the law has now changed in many places. And in those places, that argument is no longer valid. Still, churches and religious organizations support cannabis prohibition.


Well, I have to speculate here. But my guess is that Christians and Muslims are anti-cannabis because they believe it’s a distraction from God. And any distraction from God is a bad thing.

Of course, this is just an assumption on their part and is not wholly true. And there are millions of other distractions that they choose to ignore. If smoking cannabis is a mortal sin because it’s a spiritual distraction, then going to work is also a mortal sin since it distracts you from God.

I also have to speculate that politics are at play here, too. It’s likely that some self-proclaimed Christians (who are typically older political conservatives) are simply using religious tenets to justify attacks on their political enemies.

None of this has to do with any social, economic, or health concerns.

Government Agencies

There are dozens of government agencies in the U.S. that are trying to prevent cannabis legalization. They include:

  • Center for Substance Abuse Prevention
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force

These organizations support prohibition pretty much for the same reason as police and law enforcement associations: It keeps them in a job. It’s as simple as that.

Meanwhile America’s war on drugs has cost taxpayers an estimated $1 trillion since 1971.

It’s great those folks have a job. But should it be at the cost of your liberty? I don’t think so.


This one is probably the most surprising on the list. But you probably won’t be surprised about the reason casinos want to keep marijuana illegal: money.

You see, it’s against the law in places like Las Vegas to allow intoxicated people to gamble — that would include being high on cannabis. In Nevada, the law says:


When casinos have allowed people to gamble while too drunk in the past, they’ve gotten sued.

In 2014, a California man sued the Downtown Grand in Las Vegas after he says the casino over-served him, resulting in a $500,000 loss. And in 2006, a Kentucky man sued Caesars Indiana, alleging that he was drunk when casino employees offered him $75,000 in credit, which he quickly gambled away in a drunken blur.

Of course, we can argue that individuals are responsible for how much they consume. But we must also consider that we do live in a highly litigious society. And people are going to exploit anything they can to sue each other.

So it doesn’t really matter how much responsibility the individual carries; casinos will continue to get sued for allowing intoxicated people to gamble in their facilities. They oppose cannabis legalization because they want to avoid future lawsuits over allowing people to gamble under the influence of marijuana.

Addiction Services Organizations

Addiction services organizations like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are also strong opponents of legal cannabis. And of all the groups and organizations that support prohibition, they have the best argument. Yet it’s still not completely reasonable.

Organizations like NA and AA have a singular goal. NA says on its website:

NA has only one mission: to provide an environment in which addicts can help one another stop using drugs and find a new way to live.

In short, it seeks to provide an environment of total sobriety with no drugs — cannabis included. It’s not against cannabis because it’s profitable. Instead, addiction services organizations seek the best environment for their addicted clients. And that’s totally understandable. However, we’re talking about the extreme minority.

NA does not keep track of its members. It’s anonymous. However, we do know there are roughly 23,000 NA meetings per week in the United States. Those meetings can have anywhere between 4 and 400 people attend. And not all of them are members. Many times non-addicted friends and family attend NA meeting with addicts for support. So it’s really impossible to know exactly how many NA members there are.

But let’s just assume the maximum of 400 NA members attend the 23,000 weekly meetings. That would mean there’s a maximum of 9.2 million NA members attending meetings weekly in the United States. 9.2 million people is a lot of people. But relative to the more than 200 million adults in America, we’re only talking about 4% of the total adult population. And again, that’s the absolute extreme maximum.

So while I understand why groups like NA would be against cannabis, it’s unreasonable to prevent over 95% of the adult population from doing something that might affect less than 5%. It’s the equivalent of saying alcohol should be illegal because some people are prone to alcoholism.

Right-Wing Political Organizations and Parties

Conservative and right-wing political organizations and parties are the last group of anti-cannabis proponents we’re going to talk about today.

Legitimate think tanks like The Heritage Foundation are outspoken cannabis critics, as are white nationalist groups like the American Freedom Party, National Alliance, and the American Nazi Party.

I’ve already touched on why these groups are anti-cannabis. They’re not concerned with social, economic, or health effects of cannabis. Instead, they’re only interested in opposing anything their political adversaries support.

And as I mentioned earlier, this doesn’t make a lot of sense.

But moreover, conservatives should be the political party to mainly support legalization.

Among the core central tenets of conservatism are personal liberty, free market capitalism, free enterprise, deregulation, and limited government intervention. If any political party should want an end to cannabis prohibition, it should be conservatives.


I estimate that at least 75% of the anti-cannabis rhetoric from organizations has to do with money.

If cannabis were federally legal, it would cut into the bottom line of many companies and organizations. Most of the rest of the anti-cannabis rhetoric is just political fodder.

Does any of this surprise you?

Probably not. But I hope I was able to answer the question, “Who opposes cannabis and why?”

Agree? Disagree?

Send me a tweet and tell me what you think: @lukemburgess.

Until next time,
Luke Burgess Signature
Luke Burgess

As an editor at Energy and Capital, Luke’s analysis and market research reach hundreds of thousands of investors every day. Luke is also a contributing editor of Angel Publishing’s Bull and Bust Report newsletter. There, he helps investors in leveraging the future supply-demand imbalance that he believes could be key to a cyclical upswing in the hard asset markets. For more on Luke, go to his editor’s page.

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