Establishment Money Holding Up Legalization, Ben Cohen Says

The question of why marijuana is still illegal in most states and at the federal level is becoming more and more relevant as both medical and recreational cannabis continue to make political strides.

The co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream thinks he knows who’s to blame.

In a recent op-ed for U.S. News & World Report, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen pointed the finger at several culprits, including the pharmaceutical, tobacco and alcohol industries, the law enforcement community and the “prison-industrial complex,” all of which stand to make serious cash off of the continued prohibition of marijuana.

The true fight, Cohen argued, is not about health risks possibly posed by marijuana use, or even about the danger of kids getting easier access to cannabis. In truth, he asserted, it’s about money.

“The crusaders against weed constitute a long list of suspiciously self-interested folks,” wrote Cohen, who spoke at the recent Marijuana Business Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. “Pharmaceutical companies compensate leading anti-marijuana researchers in order to keep their customers on painkillers over cannabis, which is cheaper.”

But Cohen ended on an optimistic note, pointing to recent electoral victories for cannabis, and wrote, “Eventually, the public will rout big money out of the nation’s capital. As with the legalization of marijuana, it’s just a matter of time.”