Regardless of his reasoning for getting behind weed, Koch’s willingness to use his finances and massive network of political and business leaders is inevitably a sign that the cannabis cause is about to make significant strides.
If there is one thing the marijuana legalization movement has been missing all along, it is money. Sure, the forefathers of the industry managed to beg, borrow, and scrape together loads of cash to make the business of growing and selling cannabis look the part of American commerce. But even while managing to become a multi-billion-dollar business sector over the past decade, it’s fallen short of having the kind of cash it takes to influence lawmakers — the green to get stuff done.
It could be argued that the cannabis industry’s failure to pay off the suits on Capitol Hill is mainly the reason why Congress has yet to legalize the leaf at the national level.
However, all of that seems to be changing. The cannabis industry is now being endowed by influence, power, and, perhaps most importantly, the money to get anti-pot politicians from both sides of the aisle to pay attention. Most recently, billionaire Charles Koch came out in support of federal marijuana legalization.
In an interview with Forbes, the 85-year-old CEO for Koch Industries said that not only was he getting behind efforts to legalize, but he is also contributing $25 million of his own money to get it done. The actual amount of these much-needed lobbying funds will come closer to $70 million over the next two years, according to the news source.
Koch, founder of Americans for Prosperity and the recently formed Cannabis Freedom Alliance, believes people should have the right to choose. “[Prohibition] is counterproductive. It ruins people’s lives, creates conflict in society, and is anti-progress. The whole thing never made sense to me.”
It’s not supernatural why Koch, now a libertarian, is suddenly interested in marijuana legalization. Last year, the tycoon alleged that after years of dumping millions into conservative politics, he was turning his attention to more important issues like poverty, gang violence, homelessness, addiction, and recidivism, according to an interview in the Wall Street Journal. Furthermore, in his book Believe in People: Bottom-Up Solutions for a Top-Down World, Koch confessed to being disappointed with himself for supporting the divisiveness of partisan politics.
“Boy, did we screw up!” he wrote. “What a mess!”
Legal marijuana could assist some of Koch’s newfound focus. It’ll create thousands of new jobs, contribute to the economy, pull the weed business out of the streets, and prevent otherwise law-abiding citizens from going to jail.
We’ve already witnessed this at some level in states that have changed their pot laws. The demise of prohibition also wouldn’t hurt his company, Koch Industries, either, which has a heavy hand in the agricultural sect. Regardless of his reasoning for getting behind weed, Koch’s willingness to use his finances and massive network of political and business leaders is inevitably a sign that the cannabis cause is about to make significant strides.
Noa Kahner, founder of Kahner Global, one of the premier investment conferences in North America, told The Fresh Toast that Koch’s involvement will create significant developments. “This is another example of mainstream culture and leaders casting aside old fake problems with the marijuana and embracing legalization. You are about to see another boom in the market,” she said.
Marijuana legalization is finally getting some much-needed attention on Capitol Hill. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Schumer introduced a proposal for ending nationwide pot prohibition, which is now up for public comment. Schumer needs 60 votes in the Senate to advance a pot bill, which he doesn’t presently have. Yet, it could be argued that Koch’s influence and lobbying cash might be persuasive to both Democrats and Republicans that are still on the fence about tendering their support.
“[The Koch’s] seem focused on the right for individuals to choose to consume something that is much less dangerous than other legal products such as alcohol and tobacco and appear to acknowledge the failure of the war on drugs in that respect,” said David N. Feldman, Partner Hiller PC and Skip Intro Advisors. “This is one of a number of recent developments creating more “cover” for Republicans to support legalization.”
Interestingly, with Koch backing off conservative politics and running full speed ahead with marijuana legalization, he inadvertently made Fox News less of an enemy. The money once used by the Koch Brothers to benefit conservatives; dollars used to hire hosts of popular Fox news programs to speak at Americans for Prosperity events, will now further federal marijuana legalization.
Speaking of Fox News, lately, it has shared a better-balanced dialogue regarding cannabis than in the past. We use the term “better” because to say Fox News now has a well-balanced narrative on marijuana would be so far from the truth it isn’t even funny. After all, in a recent episode of “Fox and Friends”, the hosts blamed the rise of shootings in Washington DC on cannabis-induced psychosis. On the flip side, however, Geraldo Rivera just used the platform to call for legalization “everywhere in every corner of this country, every kind of marijuana you want.”
Koch believes that his presence in the cannabis scene will lead to nationwide legalization before the end of 2021.
We shall see.