As more and more US states legalize the use of marijuana, opposition to the trend is coming from some interesting sectors. Among the myriad groups opposed to legalization are America’s police unions. The cops may certainly have personal and professional reasons for their stance on the issue. But, as Lee Fang points out in an article in The Nation, many local police departments have come to depend heavily on federal funding from the war on drugs. Take away a major target of that effort, they fear, and the money will dry up. Other groups that have given significant financial backing to anti-marijuana campaigns include prison guard unions and alcohol makers, who fear a huge loss of sales if people are toking up instead of guzzling down.
But one major source of funding in the fight against relaxing marijuana laws may surprise you. According to Lee a “significant portion” of the budget of groups like the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids comes from Big Pharma companies that manufacture opioid painkillers. Legalizing marijuana could hurt the bottom line of drug companies that make billions from drugs like Oxycontin and Vicodin–which are highly addictive and regularly abused in the US. Prescription drugs kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined every year. In fact, the death toll from pain killers in the United States recently surpassed that of traffic accidents.