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How Long Before a Court Orders the Marijuana Industry to Tell the Truth Like the Tobacco Industry Ha

On Sunday, November 26, 2017, major tobacco companies began running court-ordered “corrective statements” to finally tell Americans the truth about how deadly cigarettes are and how hard the industry worked to hide the truth so it could make more money. In 2006, a federal court ordered tobacco companies to run TV and newspaper ads “on five topics about which they had deliberately deceived the public:

  • the adverse health effects of smoking;

  • the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine;

  • the lack of significant health benefit from smoking “low tar,” “light,” “ultra light,” “mild” and “natural” cigarettes (products that have been deceptively marketed as less harmful than regular cigarettes);

  • the manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and

  • the adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

For 11 years, the industry conducted legal challenges to water down the strength of the statements the judge ordered. One victory it achieved? Removal from the stipulated language the phrase, “Here is the truth.” The ads are the result of a lawsuit the US Justice Department filed against tobacco companies in 1999, one year after the industry settled a lawsuit brought by the states to reimburse them for their costs of treating Medicaid patients with tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco companies settled that lawsuit by agreeing to reimburse the states in perpetuity and set aside more than $206 billion to cover the first 25 years of those costs. The Justice Department suit alleged that the tobacco companies engaged in a criminal conspiracy under the RICO statutes to deceive the public about 1) the deadly consequences of smoking and 2) how the companies marketed to children to replace smokers who died prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. “The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, National African American Tobacco Prevention Network and the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund joined the lawsuit as interveners in 2005 to ensure the public health interests were effectively presented to the court.” The marijuana industry is behaving the same way the tobacco industry behaved before being held accountable by these lawsuits and other measures such as the 2009 law that made FDA responsible for regulating tobacco. Like tobacco companies, marijuana companies deny:

  • the adverse health effects of marijuana use

  • the addictiveness of marijuana

  • the lack of significant health benefits from smoking, vaping, or eating marijuana-infused foods (as opposed to the potential health benefits of some marijuana cannabinoids)

  • the manipulation of marijuana cultivation and processing to ensure maximum THC delivery; and

  • the adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke.

The tobacco industry began in the 1850s. It had almost a century and a half to damage Americans’ health before being held to account. In time, similar lawsuits will be brought against the marijuana industry. Let’s hope it doesn’t take so long. See one of the TV ads the tobacco companies started airing this week in next story, below. Read interveners’ press release here. Read full text of the corrective statements here. Read schedule of where and when they will run here. Read court order here.

Source: The Marijuana Report (November 29, 2017)

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