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Drug Policy Alliance Statement on Big Tobacco & Alcohol Attempts to Drive Federal [Cannabis] Regulation Efforts

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We Cannot Allow Communities Who Have Borne the Brunt of Prohibition to be Robbed Once More of the Economic Benefits they Stand to Gain

Legal Regulation Must Benefit and be Shaped by Those Most Harmed by Prohibition, Centering Health and Wellness, not Large Commercial Interests

March 25, 2021 – New York, NY — In response to intensifying attempts by major corporate interests, including the alcohol and tobacco lobby, to involve themselves in conversations around the federal regulation of [cannabis], Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:

“We have long been concerned about the entry of large commercial interests into the legal [cannabis] market. Big Alcohol and Tobacco have an abysmal track record of using predatory tactics to sell their products and build their brands – often targeting low-income communities of color and fighting public health regulations that would protect people.

It is predictable, but reprehensible, that industries that have allowed the arbitrary distinction between licit and illicit drugs to stand for so long now want to end a form of prohibition in order to bolster their bottom line. They stood by for decades as communities of color were criminalized and robbed of economic opportunities, only to try to swoop in when it is politically and financially convenient to do so, to deprive these communities once more of the long overdue economic benefits they stand to gain.

We believe that federal [cannabis] prohibition needs to end. We also believe that regulation needs to be done thoughtfully in ways that begin to repair past harm and make communities safer and healthier. We do not want to replicate tobacco and alcohol industry strategies, which we know have hurt the health and wellness of communities. We urge caution to elected officials in taking these industry actors’ counsel and demand that the communities who have borne the brunt of prohibition be given the right-of-way when it comes to shaping policy and benefiting from the legal regulation of [cannabis].”


About the Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the autonomy of individuals over their minds and bodies. Learn more at

Matt Sutton 212-613-8026


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