Americans Distrust Big Tobacco, Alcohol, and Pharma for Cannabis Policy

two open hands holding a frowning paper face
Illustration: LAONG / Shutterstock

BOSTON – American adults don’t want large industries like tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceuticals to shape cannabis policy. That’s according to a recent study by the Parabola Center for Law and Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank comprised of legal professionals and drug policy experts advocating for cannabis legalization. The survey, titled “American Values and Beliefs About Marijuana Legalization,” was conducted in collaboration with RTI International, an independent nonprofit research institute.

Key Findings

  • Trust in Policy Creators: Over half of American adults trust people with lived experience (67%) or who use marijuana (56%) to create good cannabis policy. In contrast, only a small fraction trust executives from the tobacco (18%), pharmaceutical (24%), and alcohol (13%) industries.
  • Beneficiaries of Legalization: A majority believe cannabis legalization should benefit medical patients (85%), recreational users (63%), workers in the industry (73%), and those impacted by law enforcement (61%). Conversely, fewer support benefits going to pharmaceutical (40%), tobacco (28%), and alcohol (19%) companies, and large corporate actors (29%).
  • Support for Local and Small Businesses: The survey indicates strong support for locally-owned (57%) and small businesses (56%) to benefit from cannabis legalization.

“Given their shameful history of putting profits above all else, Americans are right not to trust tobacco, alcohol, or pharmaceutical companies to shape marijuana policy,” said Shaleen Title, founder and director of the Parabola Center. “Policymakers should be wary of taking cannabis advice from their front groups.”


Importance of Social Equity

The survey also underscored social equity as a crucial factor for American adults regarding cannabis policy. Defined as the effort to repair harm caused by past marijuana law enforcement, social equity was a top concern for 68 percent of those surveyed, alongside ending arrests for marijuana offenses at 68 percent.

The Parabola Center plans to release further findings from an additional experiment within the study, indicating that public education could be a valuable tool in promoting policies favoring small businesses and cannabis users.