Mitigating the risks of corporate capture in emerging legal cannabis markets
Cannabis policy reforms are accelerating globally - with approaching half a billion people now living in jurisdictions implementing legal non-medical cannabis markets. Absent government interventions, market dynamics will replicate challenges experienced with alcohol and tobacco, in which a process of corporate capture (and related market monopolisation) distorts policy making, prioritising commercial interests over public health, sustainable development or wider social justice goals. Key elements of corporate capture are already evident in emerging markets, including market encroachment from alcohol and tobacco multinationals.
As more jurisdictions develop legal markets important questions are raised concerning which legal/policy interventions could mitigate these risks; what structural obstacles exist to their implementation; and how such obstacles might be negotiated
Review of key trends/dynamics regards corporate capture in legal cannabis jurisdictions. Review of corporate capture risk mitigation - in civil society and academic debate, and real world policy practice. Review of structural obstacles to implementation of such risk mitigation
Key elements corporate capture are already emerging in legal cannabis markets, most obviously in North America. A growing literature on risk mitigation strategies was identified (including non-commercial market models, equity programmes, licensing access/limits) with some emerging examples of implementation. Corporate capture processes in North America pose a threat to effective policy development in emerging international markets . Major structural obstacles were identified in multilateral prohibitionist legal systems, meaning cannabis regulation models are being developed absent guidance from expert advisory bodies that have historically guided alcohol and tobacco policy (eg the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) .
Corporate capture presents serious risks to public health and wider policy goals in emerging legal cannabis markets. Credible mitigation strategies exist, but structural obstacles may hinder implementation. This is an issue of urgent concern for policy makers as the window of opportunity to mitigate risks is closing rapidly.