I can’t remember which documentary I watched in high school, maybe it was Food Inc., but I’ve been taught to demonize the Koch Brothers. They seemed to represent everything greedy and corrupt in American capitalism.
So, I can’t help but take it with a few grains of salt when I see Charles Koch putting down $25 million to lobby for marijuana legalization on a federal level.
In a new interview with Forbes magazine, Charles Koch talks about why he cares so deeply about this issue, despite not ever smoking the plant himself (besides one accidental incident of eating a pot brownie in the 80’s).
“It should be the individual’s choice. [Prohibition] is counterproductive. It ruins people’s lives, creates conflict in society and is anti-progress. The whole thing never made sense to me.”
Charles Koch is a libertarian, and sees prohibition as an affront to personal freedom, along with an exacerbation of our incarceration problem.
“By criminalizing [cannabis], it has huge negative manifestations, not only for the individuals who get trapped in that system, but also for society. We want a society that empowers people to realize their potential and contribute, but with these laws you block out millions of people.”
His plan will be carried out by Brian Hooks of Stand Together, and apparently involves working both with grassroots activism, media advertising, and also classic lobbying within the halls of the Senate.
Amazon has recently registered to do something similar, so Charles Koch and Bezos have formed an unlikely alliance in this fight.
Koch’s support seems to come from a place of vehemently disagreeing with the War on Drugs. But that teenager within me still feels like there’s an angle somewhere in here that we aren’t fully seeing. Nonetheless, Koch’s backing will be huge for the cause. His audience is exactly who needs to be convinced of the importance of ending this agonizingly old-fashioned and failed marijuana prohibition in our country.
Read the interview over at Forbes.